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This publication is not for sale. It is provided
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educational work supported by voluntary donations.
indicated, Scripture quotations
are from the modern-language
New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures—With References
What Does the Bible Really Teach?
English ( bh-E)
Made in the United States of America
Is This What God Purposed?.. 3
Is This What. God Purposed?
READ any newspaper. Look at television, or listen to the radio. There are so many stories of crime, war, and terrorism! Think about your own troubles. Perhaps illness or the death of a loved one is causing you great distress. You may feel like the good man Job, who said that he was "drenched with misery."—Job 10:15, The Holy Bible in the Language of Today.
n Is this what God purposed for me and for the rest of mankind?
n Where can I find help to cope with my problems?
· Is there any hope that we will ever see peace on the earth?
The Bible provides satisfying answers to these questions.
BENEFIT FROM WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES
Do not quickly dismiss what is presented on the preceding pages as mere wishful thinking. God has promised to bring these things about, and the Bible explains how he will do so.
But the Bible does more than that. It provides the key to your enjoying a truly satisfying life even now. Think for a moment about your own anxieties and troubles. They may include money matters, family problems, loss of health, or the death of a loved one. The Bible can help you to deal with
problems today, and it can provide
relief by answering such questions as these:
n Why do we suffer?
n How can we cope with life's anxieties?
n How can we make our family life happier?
n What happens to us when we die?
n Will we ever see our dead loved ones again?
n How can we be sure that God will fulfill his promises for the future?
Is This What God Purposed? 7
The fact that you are reading this book shows that you would like to find out what the Bible teaches. This book will help you. Notice that the paragraphs have corresponding questions at the bottom of the page. Millions have enjoyed using the question-and-answer method when discussing the Bible with Jehovah's Witnesses. We hope you will too. May you have God's blessing as you now enjoy the thrilling and satisfying experience of learning what the Bible really teaches!
GET TO KNOW YOUR BIBLE
THERE are 66 books and letters that make up the Bible. These are divided into chapters and verses for easy reference. When scriptures are cited in this publication, the first number after the name indicates the chapter of the Bible book or letter, and the next refers to the verse. For example, the citation "2 Timothy 3:16" means the second letter to Timothy, chapter 3, verse 16.
You will quickly become familiar with the Bible by looking up the scriptures cited in this publication. Also, why not start a program of daily Bible reading? By reading three to five chapters a day, you can read the entire Bible in a year.
Does God really care about you?
What is God like? Does he have a name?
Is it possible to get close to God?
HAVE you ever noticed the way children ask questions? Many start asking as soon as they learn to speak. With wide, eager eyes, they look up at you and ask such things as: Why is the sky blue? What are the stars made of? Who taught the birds to sing? You may try hard to answer, but it is not always easy. Even your best answer may lead to yet another question: Why? [i] [ii]
2 Children are not the only ones who ask questions. As we grow up, we keep asking. We do this in order to find our way, to learn of dangers that we need to avoid, or to satisfy our curiosity. But many people seem to stop asking questions, especially the most important ones. At least, they stop searching for the answers.
3 Think about the question •,\
on the cover of this book, the questions raised in the preface,
1, 2. Why is it often good to ask questions? 3. Why do many stop trying to find answers to the questions that matter most?
or those at the beginning of this chapter. These are some of the most important questions you can ask. Yet, many people have given up trying to find the answers. Why? Does the Bible have the answers? Some feel that its answers are too hard to understand. Others worry that asking questions could lead to shame or embarrassment. And some decide that such questions are best left to religious leaders and teachers. What about you?
4 Very likely you are interested in getting answers to life's big questions. No doubt you sometimes wonder: 'What is the purpose of life? Is this life all there is? What is God really like?' It is good to ask such questions, and it is important that you do not give up until you find satisfying, reliable answers. The famous teacher Jesus Christ said: "Keep on asking, and it will be given you; keep on seeking, and you will find; keep on knocking, and it will be opened to you."—Matthew 7:7.
5 If you "keep on seeking" for answers to the important questions, you will find that the search can be very rewarding. (Proverbs 2:1-5) Despite what other people may have told you, there are answers, and you can find them —in the Bible. The answers are not too hard to understand. Better yet, they bring hope and joy. And they can help you to live a satisfying life right now. To begin, let us consider a question that has troubled many people.
IS GOD UNCARING AND HARDHEARTED?
6 Many people think that the answer to that question is yes. 'If God cared,' they reason, 'would not the world be
4, 5. What are some of the most important questions we can ask in life, and why should we seek the answers?
6. Why do many people think that God is uncaring when it comes to human suffering?
a very different place?' We look around and see a world full of war, hatred, and misery. And as individuals, we get sick, we suffer, we lose loved ones in death. Thus, many say, 'If God cared about us and our problems, would he not prevent such things from happening?'
Worse yet, religious teachers sometimes lead people to think that God is hardhearted. How so? When tragedy strikes, they say that it is God's will. In effect, such teachers blame God for the bad things that happen. Is that the truth about God? What does the Bible really teach? James 1:13 answers: "When under trial, let no one say: 'I am being tried by God.' For with evil things God cannot be tried nor does he himself try anyone." So God is never the source of the wickedness you see in the world around you. (Job 34:10-12) Granted, he does allow bad things to happen. But there is a big difference between allowing something to happen and causing it.
8 For example, think about a wise and loving father with a grown son who is still living at home with his parents. When the son becomes rebellious and decides to leave home, his father does not stop him. The son pursues a bad way of life and gets into trouble. Is the father the cause of his son's problems? No. (Luke 15:11-13) Similarly, God has not stopped humans when they have chosen to pursue a bad course, but he is not the cause of the problems that have resulted. Surely, then, it would be unfair to blame God for all the troubles of mankind.
7. (a) How have religious teachers led many to think that God is hardhearted? (b) What does the Bible really teach about the trials we may suffer?
8, 9. (a) How might you illustrate the difference between allowing wickedness to exist and causing it? (b) Why would it be unfair for us to find fault with God's decision to allow mankind to pursue a wayward course?
9 God has good reasons for allowing mankind to follow a bad course. As our wise and powerful Creator, he does not have to explain his reasons to us. Out of love, however, God does this. You will learn more about these reasons in Chapter 11. But rest assured that God is not responsible for the problems we face. On the contrary, he gives us the only hope for a solution!—Isaiah 33:2.
10 Furthermore, God is holy. (Isaiah 6:3) This means that he is pure and clean. There is no trace of badness in him. So we can trust him completely. That is more than we can say for humans, who sometimes become corrupt. Even the most honest human in authority often does not have the power to undo the damage that bad people do. But God is all-powerful. He can and will undo all the effects that wickedness has had on mankind. When God acts, he will do so in a way that will end evil forever! —Psalm 37:9-11.
HOW DOES GOD FEEL
INJUSTICES WE FACE?
11 In the meantime, how does God feel about what is going on in the world and in your life? Well, the Bible teaches that God is "a lover of justice." (Psalm 37:28) So he cares deeply about what is right and what is wrong. He hates all kinds of injustice. The Bible says that God "felt hurt at his heart" when badness filled the world in times past. (Genesis 6:5, 6) God has not changed. (Malachi 3:6) He still hates to see the suffering that is taking place worldwide. And God hates to see people suffer. "He cares for you," the Bible says.-1 Peter 5:7.
10. Why can we trust that God will undo all the effects of wickedness?
11. (a) How does God feel about injustice? (b) How does God feel about your suffering?
1 2 What Does the Bible Really Teach?
12 How can we be sure that God hates to see suffering? Here is further proof. The Bible teaches that man was made in the image of God. (Genesis 1:26) We thus have good qualities because God has good. qualities. For example, does it bother you to see innocent people suffer? If you care about such injustices, be assured that God feels even more strongly about them.
13 One of the best
things about humans is our abili‑
ty to love. That also reflects God. The Bible teaches that
"God is love." (1 John 4:8) We love because God loves.
Would love move you to end the suffering and the in‑
justice you see in the world? If you had the power to do
that, would you do it? Of course you
would! You can be just as sure that
God will end suffering and injustice.
The promises mentioned in the pref‑
ace of this book are not mere dreams
or idle hopes. God's promises are
sure to come true! In order to put
faith in such promises, though, you
need to know more about the God who has made them.
WANTS YOU TO KNOW
WHO HE IS
14 If you want someone to get to know you, what might you do? Would you not tell the person your
12, 13. (a) Why do we have good qualities such as love, and how does love affect our view of the world? (b) Why can you be sure that God will really do something about world problems?
14. What is God's name, and why should we use it?
name? Does God have a name? Many religions answer that his name is "God" or "Lord," but those are not personal names. They are titles, just as "king" and "president" are titles. The Bible teaches that God has many titles. "God" and "Lord" are among them. However, the Bible also teaches that God has a personal name: Jehovah. Psalm 83:18 says: "You, whose name is Jehovah, you alone are the Most High over all the earth." If your Bible translation does not contain that name, you may want to consult the Appendix on pages 195-7 of this book to learn why that is so. The truth is that God's name
14 What Does the Bible Really Teach?
appears thousands of times in ancient Bible manuscripts. So Jehovah wants you to know his name and to use it. In a sense, he is using the Bible to introduce himself to you.
15 God gave himself a name that is full of meaning. His name, Jehovah, means that God can fulfill any promise he makes and can carry out any purpose he has in mind.* God's name is unique, one of a kind. It belongs only to him. In a number of ways, Jehovah is unique. How is that so?
16 We saw that Psalm 83:18 said of Jehovah: "You alone
* There is more information on the meaning and the pronunciation of God's name in the Appendix on pages 195-7.
15. What does the name Jehovah mean?
16, 17. What may we learn about Jehovah from the following titles: (a) "the Almighty"? (b) "King of eternity"? (c) "Creator"?
are the Most High." Similarly, Jehovah alone is referred to as "the Almighty." Revelation 15:3 says: "Great and ☺
1) having absolute power over all *Almighty God*
2) a. relatively unlimited in power *an almighty board of directors*
b. having or regarded as having great power or importance *the almighty dollar*
wonderful are your works, Jehovah God, the Almighty. Righteous and true are your ways, King of eternity." The title "the Almighty" teaches us that Jehovah is the most powerful being there is. His power is unmatched; it is supreme. And the title "King of eternity" reminds us that Jehovah is unique in another sense. He alone has always existed. Psalm 90:2 says: "Even from time indefinite to time indefinite [or, forever] you are God." That thought inspires awe, does it not?
Jehovah is also unique in that he alone is the Creator. Revelation 4:11 reads: "You are worthy, Jehovah, even our God, to receive the glory and the honor and the power, because you created all things, and because of your will they existed and were created." Everything that you can think of—from the invisible spirit creatures in heaven to the stars that fill the night sky to the fruit that grows on the trees to the fish that swim in the oceans and rivers—all of it exists because Jehovah is the Creator!
CAN YOU BE CLOSE TO JEHOVAH?
18 Reading about Jehovah's awe-inspiring qualities makes some people feel a little uneasy. They fear that God is too high for them, that they could never get close to him or even matter to such a lofty God. But is this idea correct? The Bible teaches just the opposite. It says of Jehovah: "In fact, he is not far off from each one of us." (Acts 17:27) The Bible even urges us: "Draw close to God, and he will draw close to you."—James 4:8.
16 What Does the Bible Really Teach?
19 How can you draw close to God [iii] [iv]? To begin with, continue doing what you are doing now—learning about God. Jesus said: "This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ." (John 17:3) Yes, the Bible teaches that learning about Jehovah and Jesus leads to "everlasting life[v] [vi] "! As already noted, "God is love." (1 John 4:16) Jehovah also has many other beautiful and appealing qualities. For example, the Bible says that Jehovah is "a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness and truth." (Exodus 34:6) He is "good and ready to forgive." (Psalm 86:5) God is patient. (2 Peter 3:9) He is loyal. (Revelation 15:4) As you read more in the Bible, you will see how Jehovah has shown that he has these and many other appealing qualities.
20 True, you cannot see God because he is an invisible spirit. (John 1:18; 4:24; 1 Timothy 1:17) By learning about him through the pages of the Bible, however, you can come to know him as a person. As the psalmist said, you can "behold the pleasantness of Jehovah." (Psalm 27:4; Romans 1:20) The more you learn about Jehovah, the more real he will become to you and the more reason you will have to love him and feel close to him.
21 You will come to understand why the Bible teaches us to think of Jehovah as our Father. (Matthew 6:9) Not only does our life come from him but he wants the best life possible for us—just as any loving father would want for his children. (Psalm 36:9) The Bible also teaches
19. (a) How can we begin to draw close to God, and with what benefit? (b) What qualities of God are most appealing to you?
20-22. (a) Does our inability to see God prevent us from getting close to him? Explain. (b) What may some well-meaning people urge you to do, but what should you do?
that humans can become Jehovah's friends. (James 2: 23) Imagine—you can become a friend of the Creator of the universe!
22 As you learn more from the Bible, you may find that some well-meaning people will urge you to stop such studies. They may worry that you will change your beliefs. But do not let anyone stop you from forming the best friendship you can ever have.
23 Of course, there will be things that you do not understand at first. It can be a little humbling to ask for help, but do not hold back because of embarrassment. Jesus said that it is good to be humble, like a little child. (Matthew 18:2-4) And children, as we know, ask a lot of questions. God wants you to find the answers. The Bible praises some who were eager to learn about God. They checked carefully in the Scriptures to make sure that what they were learning was the truth. Acts 17:11[vii] [viii] .
24 The best way to learn about Jehovah is to examine the Bible. It is different from any other book. In what way? The next chapter will consider that subject.
23, 24. (a) Why should you continue to ask questions about what you are learning? (b) What is the subject of the next chapter?
WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES
n God cares about you personally.-1 Peter 5:7.
n God's personal name is Jehovah. —Psalm 83:18.
n Jehovah invites you to draw close to him. —James 4:8.
n Jehovah is loving, kind, and merciful. —Exodus 34:6; 1 John 4:8, 16.
—A Book From God
In what ways is the Bible different
from any other book?
How can the Bible help you cope with
Why can you trust the prophecies
recorded in the Bible?
CAN you recall a time when you received a fine gift from a dear friend? Likely, the experience was not only exciting but also heartwarming. After all, a gift tells you something about the giver—that he or she values your friendship. No doubt you expressed gratitude for your friend's thoughtful gift.
2 The Bible is a gift from God, one for which we can be truly grateful. This unique book reveals things that we could never find out otherwise. For example, it tells us about the creation of the starry heavens, the earth, and the first man and woman. The Bible contains reliable principles to help us cope with life's problems and anxieties. It explains how God will fulfill his purpose and bring about better conditions on the earth. What an exciting gift the Bible is!
3 The Bible is also a heartwarming gift, for it reveals
1, 2. In what ways is the Bible an exciting gift from God?
3. What does the provision of the Bible tell us about Jehovah, and why is this heartwarming?
World Translation of the Holy
Scriptures" is available in many languages
something about the Giver, Jehovah God. The fact that he has provided such a book is proof that he wants us to get to know him well. Indeed, the Bible can help you to draw close to Jehovah.
4 If you have a copy of the Bible, you are far from alone. In whole or in part, the Bible has been published in more than 2,300 languages and thus is available to more than 90 percent of the world's population. On the average, more than a million Bibles are distributed each week! Billions of copies of either the whole Bible or part of it have been produced. Surely, there is no other book like the Bible.
5 Furthermore, the Bible "is inspired of God." (2 Timothy 3:16) In what way? The Bible itself answers: "Men spoke from God as they were borne along by holy spirit." (2 Peter 1:21) To illustrate: A businessman might have a secretary write a letter. That letter contains the
4. What impresses you about the distribution of the Bible?
5. In what way is the Bible "inspired of God"?
20 What Does the Bible Really Teach?
businessman's thoughts and instructions. Hence, it is really his letter, not the secretary's. In a similar way, the Bible contains God's message, not that of the men who wrote it down. Thus, the entire Bible truthfully is "the word of God."-1 Thessalonians 2:13.
HARMONIOUS AND ACCURATE
6 The Bible was written over a 1,600-year period. Its writers lived at different times and came from many walks of life. Some were farmers, fishermen, and shepherds. Others were prophets, judges, and kings. The Gospel writer Luke was a doctor. Despite the varied backgrounds of its writers, the Bible is harmonious from beginning to end.*
7 The first book of the Bible tells us how mankind's problems began. The last book shows that the whole earth will become a paradise, or garden. All the material in the Bible covers thousands of years of history and relates in some way to the unfolding of God's purpose. The harmony of the Bible is impressive, but that is what we would expect of a book from God.
8 The Bible is scientifically accurate. It even contains information that was far ahead of its time. For example, the book of Leviticus contained laws for ancient Israel on quarantine and hygiene when surrounding nations knew nothing about such matters. At a time when there were
* Although some people say that certain parts of the Bible contradict other parts of it, such claims are unfounded. See chapter 7 of the book The Bible—God's Word or Man's? published by Jehovah's Witnesses.
6, 7. Why is the harmony of the material in the Bible particularly noteworthy?
8. Give examples showing that the Bible is scientifically accurate.
wrong ideas about the shape of the earth, the Bible referred to it as a circle, or sphere. (Isaiah 40:22) The Bible accurately said that the earth 'hangs on nothing.' (Job 26:7) Of course, the Bible is not a science textbook. But when it touches on scientific matters, it is accurate. Is this not what we would expect of a book from God?
9 The Bible is also historically accurate and reliable. Its accounts are specific. They include not only the names but also the ancestry of individuals.* In contrast to secular historians, who often do not mention the defeats of their own people, Bible writers were honest, even recording their own failings and those of their nation. In the Bible book of Numbers, for instance, the writer Moses admits his own serious error for which he was severely reproved. (Numbers 20:2-12) Such honesty is rare in other historical accounts but is found in the Bible because it is a book from God.
A BOOK OF PRACTICAL WISDOM
10 Because the Bible is inspired of God, it is "beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight" (2 Timothy 3:16) Yes, the Bible is a practical book. It reflects a keen understanding of human nature. No wonder, for its Author, Jehovah God, is the Creator! He understands our thinking and emotions better than we do. Furthermore, Jehovah knows what we need in order to be happy. He also knows what pathways we should avoid.
* For example, note the detailed ancestral line of Jesus set out at Luke 3:23-38.
9. (a) In what ways does the Bible show itself to be historically accurate and reliable? (b) What does the honesty of its writers tell you about the Bible?
10. Why is it not surprising that the Bible is a practical book?
11 Consider Jesus' speech called the Sermon on the Mount, recorded in Matthew chapters 5 to 7. In this masterpiece of teaching, Jesus spoke on a number of topics, including the way to find true happiness, how to settle disputes, how to pray, and how to have the proper view
11, 12. (a) What topics did Jesus discuss in his Sermon on the Mount? (b) What other practical matters are considered in the Bible, and why is its counsel timeless?
of material things. Jesus' words are just as powerful and practical today as they were when he spoke them.
12 Some Bible principles deal with family life, work habits, and relationships with others. The Bible's principles apply to all people, and its counsel is always beneficial. The wisdom found in the Bible is summarized by God's words through the prophet Isaiah: "I, Jehovah, am your God, the One teaching you to benefit yourself." —Isaiah 48:17.
A BOOK OF PROPHECY
13 The Bible contains numerous prophecies, many of which have already been fulfilled. Consider an example. Through the prophet Isaiah, who lived in the eighth century B.C.E., Jehovah foretold that the city of Babylon would be destroyed. (Isaiah 13:19; 14:22, 23) Details were given to show just how this would happen. Invading armies would dry up Babylon's river and march into the city without a battle. That is not all. Isaiah's prophecy even named the king who would conquer Babylon—Cyrus.—Isaiah 44:27-45:2.
14 Some 200 years later—on the night of October 5/6, 539 B.C.E.—an army encamped near Babylon. Who was its commander? A Persian king named Cyrus. The stage was thus set for the fulfillment of an amazing prophecy. But would the army of Cyrus invade Babylon without a battle, as foretold?
15 The Babylonians were holding a festival that night and felt secure behind their massive city walls. Meanwhile, Cyrus cleverly diverted the water of the river that
13. What details did Jehovah inspire the prophet Isaiah to record regarding Babylon?
14, 15. How were some details of Isaiah's prophecy about Babylon fulfilled?
24 What Does the Bible Really Teach?
flowed through the city. Soon the water was shallow enough for his men to cross the riverbed and approach the walls of the city. But how would Cyrus' army get past Babylon's walls? For some reason, on that night the doors to the city were carelessly left open!
16 Regarding Babylon, it was foretold: "She will never be inhabited, nor will she reside for generation after generation. And there the Arab will not pitch his tent, and no shepherds will let their flocks lie down there." (Isaiah 13:20) This prophecy did more than predict a city's fall. It showed that Babylon would be desolated permanently. You can see evidence of the fulfillment of these words. The uninhabited site of ancient Babylon—about 50 miles south of Baghdad, Iraq—is proof that what Jehovah spoke through Isaiah has been fulfilled: "I will sweep her with the broom of annihilation."—Isaiah 14:22, 23.*
* For more information on Bible prophecy, see pages 27-9 of the brochure A Book for All People, published by Jehovah's Witnesses.
16. (a) What did Isaiah foretell about the final outcome of Babylon? (b) How was Isaiah's prophecy about Babylon's desolation fulfilled?
The Bible—A Book From God 25
17 Considering how the Bible is a book of reliable prophecy is faith strengthening, is it not? After all, if Jehovah God has fulfilled his past promises, we have every reason to be confident that he will also fulfill his promise of a paradise earth. (Numbers 23:19) Indeed, we have "hope of the everlasting life which God, who cannot lie, promised before times long lasting."—Titus 1:2.*
"THE WORD OF GOD IS ALIVE"
18 From what we have considered in this chapter, it is clear that the Bible is truly a unique book. Yet, its value extends far beyond its internal harmony, scientific and
* The destruction of Babylon is just one example of fulfilled Bible prophecy. Other examples include the destruction of Tyre and Nineveh. (Ezekiel 26:1-5; Zephaniah 2:13-15) Also, Daniel's prophecy foretold a succession of world empires that would come into power after Babylon. These included Medo-Persia and Greece. (Daniel 8:5-7, 20-22) See the Appendix, pages 199-201, for a discussion of the many Messianic prophecies that were fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
17. How is the fulfillment of Bible prophecy faith strengthening?
18. What powerful statement does the Christian apostle Paul make about "the word of God"?
26 What Does the Bible Really Teach?
historical accuracy, practical wisdom, and reliable prophecy. The Christian apostle Paul wrote: "The word of God is alive and exerts power and is sharper than any two-edged sword and pierces even to the dividing of soul and spirit, and of joints and their marrow, and is able to discern thoughts and intentions of the heart." —Hebrews 4:12.
19 Reading God's "word," or message, in the Bible can change our life. It can help us to examine ourselves as never before. We may claim to love God, but how we react to what his inspired Word, the Bible, teaches will reveal our true thoughts, even the very intentions of the heart.
20 The Bible truly is a book from God. It is a book that is to be read, studied, and loved. Show your gratitude for this divine gift by continuing to peer into its contents. As you do so, you will gain a deep appreciation of God's purpose for mankind. Just what that purpose is and how it will be realized will be discussed in the following chapter.
19, 20. (a) How can the Bible help you to examine yourself? (b) How can you show your gratitude for God's unique gift, the Bible?
WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES
n The Bible is inspired of God and thus is accurate and reliable.-2 Timothy 3:16.
The information found in God's
n God's promises found in the Bible are certain to be fulfilled.—Numbers 23:19.
CHAPTER THREE ●
What is God's purpose for mankind?
How has God been challenged?
What will life on earth be like in the future?
GOD'S purpose for the earth is really wonderful. Jehovah wants the earth to be filled with happy, healthy people. The Bible says that "God planted a garden in Eden" and that he "made to grow . . . every tree desirable to one's sight and good for food." After God created the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, He put them in that lovely home and told them: "Be fruitful and become many and fill the earth and subdue it." (Genesis 1:28; 2:8, 9, 15) So it was God's purpose that humans have children, extend the boundaries of that garden home earth wide, and take care of the animals.
2 Do you think that Jehovah God's purpose for people to live in an earthly paradise will ever be realized? "I have even spoken it," God declares, "I shall also do it." (Isaiah 46:9-11; 55:11) Yes, what God purposes he will surely do! He says that he "did not create [the earth] simply for nothing" but "formed it even to be inhabited." (Isaiah 45:18) What kind of people did God want to live on the earth? And for how long did he want them to live here?
1. What is God's purpose for the earth?
2. (a) How do we know that God's purpose for the earth will be fulfilled? (b) What does the Bible say about humans living forever?
28 What Does the Bible Really Teach?
3 Obviously, this has not happened yet. People now get sick and die; they even fight and kill one another. Something went wrong. Surely, however, God did not purpose that the earth should be as we see it today! What happened? Why has God's purpose not been fulfilled? No history book written by man can tell us because the trouble started in heaven.
THE ORIGIN OF AN ENEMY
4 The first book of the Bible tells of an opposer of God who showed up in the garden of Eden. He is described as "the serpent," but he was not a mere animal. The last book of the Bible identifies him as "the one called Devil and Satan, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth." He is also called "the original serpent." (Genesis 3:1; Revelation 12:9) This powerful angel, or invisible spirit creature, used a serpent to speak to Eve, even as a skilled person can make it seem that his voice is coming from a nearby doll or dummy. That spirit person had no doubt been present when God prepared the earth for humans.—Job 38:4, 7.
Since all of Jehovah's creations are perfect, however, who made this "Devil," this "Satan"? Put simply, one of the powerful spirit sons of God turned himself into the Devil. How was this possible? Well, today a person who was once decent and honest may become a thief. How
3. What sad conditions now exist on earth, and what questions does this raise?
4, 5. (a) Who actually spoke to Eve by means of a serpent? (b) How might a formerly decent, honest person become a thief?
What Is God's Purpose for the Earth? 29
does that happen? The person may allow a wrong desire to develop in his heart. If he keeps thinking about it, that wrong desire may become very strong. Then if the opportunity presents itself, he may act upon the bad desire that he has been thinking about.—James 1:13-15.
6 This happened in the case of Satan the Devil. He apparently heard God tell Adam and Eve to have children and to fill the earth with their offspring. (Genesis 1: 27, 28) 'Why, all these humans could worship me rather than God!' Satan evidently thought. So a wrong desire built up in his heart. Eventually, he took action to deceive Eve by telling her lies about God. (Genesis 3:1-5) He thus became a "Devil," which means "Slanderer." At the same time, he became "Satan," which means "Opposer."
7 By using lies and trickery, Satan the Devil caused Adam and Eve to disobey God. (Genesis 2:17; 3:6) As a result, they eventually died, as God had said they would if they disobeyed. (Genesis 3:17-19) Since Adam became imperfect when he sinned, all his offspring inherited sin from him. (Romans 5:12) The situation might be illustrated with a pan used for baking bread. If the pan has a dent in it, what happens to each loaf of bread made in the pan? Each loaf has a dent, or an imperfection, in it. Similarly, each human has inherited a "dent" of imperfection from Adam. That is why all humans grow old and die.—Romans 3:23.
8 When Satan led Adam and Eve into sinning against God, he was really leading a rebellion. He was challenging Jehovah's way of ruling. In effect, Satan was saying:
6. How did a powerful spirit son of God become Satan the Devil?
7. (a) Why did Adam and Eve die? (b) Why do all of Adam's offspring grow old and die?
8, 9. (a) What challenge did Satan evidently make? (b) Why did God not destroy the rebels immediately?
30 What Does the Bible Really Teach?
'God is a bad ruler. He tells lies and holds back good things from his subjects. Humans do not need to have God ruling over them. They can decide for themselves what is good and what is bad. And they will be better off under my rulership.' How would God handle such an insulting challenge? Some think that God should simply have put the rebels to death. But would that have
could Satan have offered
Jesus all the kingdoms of the world
if he did not own them?
What Is God's Purpose for the Earth? 31
answered Satan's challenge? Would it have proved that God's way of ruling is right?
9 Jehovah's perfect sense of justice would not allow him to put the rebels to death right away. He decided that time was needed to answer Satan's challenge in a satisfying way and to prove that the Devil is a liar. So God determined that he would permit humans to rule themselves for some time under Satan's influence. Why Jehovah did that and why he has allowed so much time to pass before settling these issues will be discussed in Chapter 11 of this book. Now, though, it is good to think about this: Were Adam and Eve right to believe Satan, who had never done anything good for them? Was it right for them to believe that Jehovah, who had given them everything they had, is a cruel liar? What would you have done?
10 It is good to think about these questions because each of us faces similar issues today. Yes, you have the opportunity to support Jehovah's side in answer to Satan's challenge. You can accept Jehovah as your Ruler and help to show that Satan is a liar. (Psalm 73:28; Proverbs 27:11) Sadly, only a few among the billions of people in this world make such a choice. This raises an important question, Does the Bible really teach that Satan rules this world?
WHO RULES THIS WORLD?
11 Jesus never doubted that Satan is the ruler of this world. In some miraculous way, Satan once showed Jesus
10. How can you support Jehovah's side in answer to Satan's challenge?
11, 12. (a) How does a temptation of Jesus reveal that Satan is the ruler of this world? (b) What else proves that Satan is the ruler of this world?
32 What Does the Bible Really Teach?
"all the kingdoms of the world and their glory" Satan then promised Jesus: "All these things I will give you if you fall down and do an act of worship to me." (Matthew 4:8, 9; Luke 4:5, 6) Think about this. Would that offer have been a temptation to Jesus if Satan was not the ruler of these kingdoms? Jesus did not deny that all these worldly governments were Satan's. Surely, Jesus would have done that if Satan was not the power behind them.
12 Of course, Jehovah is the Almighty God, the Creator of the marvelous universe. (Revelation 4:11) Yet, nowhere does the Bible say that either Jehovah God or Jesus Christ is ruler of this world. In fact, Jesus specifically referred to Satan as "the ruler of this world." (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11) The Bible even refers to Satan the Devil as "the god of this system of things." (2 Corinthians 4:3, 4) Regarding this opposer, or Satan, the Christian apostle John wrote: "The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one."-1 John 5:19.
HOW SATAN'S WORLD WILL BE REMOVED
13 With each passing year, the world is becoming more and more dangerous. It is overrun with warring armies, dishonest politicians, hypocritical religious leaders, and hardened criminals. The world as a whole is beyond reform. The Bible reveals that the time is near when God will eliminate the wicked world during his war of Armageddon. This will make way for a righteous new world. —Revelation 16:14-16.
14 Jehovah God selected Jesus Christ to be Ruler of His heavenly Kingdom, or government. Long ago, the Bible
13. Why is there a need for a new world?
14. Whom has God selected to be Ruler of His Kingdom, and how was this foretold?
What Is God's Purpose for the Earth? 33
foretold: "Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called . . . Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end." (Isaiah 9:6, 7, King James Version) Regarding this government, Jesus taught his followers to pray: "Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth." (Matthew 6:10) As we will see later in this book, God's Kingdom will soon remove all the governments of this world, and it itself will replace all of them. (Daniel 2:44) Then God's Kingdom will usher in an earthly paradise.
A NEW WORLD IS AT HAND! _ 33-36
15 The Bible assures us: "There are new heavens and a new earth that we are awaiting according to [God's] promise, and in these righteousness is to dwell." (2 Peter 3:13; Isaiah 65:17) Sometimes when the Bible speaks of "the earth," it means the people who live on the earth. (Genesis 11:1) So the righteous "new earth" is a society of people who receive God's approval.
16 Jesus promised that in the coming new world, those approved by God would receive the gift of "everlasting life." (Mark 10:30) Please open your Bible to John 3:16 and 17:3, and read what Jesus said we must do to receive everlasting life. Now consider from the Bible the blessings that will be enjoyed by those who qualify for that wonderful gift from God in the coming earthly Paradise.
17 Wickedness, warfare, crime, and violence will be gone.
15. What is the "new earth"?
16. What is a priceless gift from God to those whom he approves, and what must we do to receive it?
17, 18. How can we be sure that there will be peace and security everywhere on earth?
"The wicked one will be no more . . . But the meek ones themselves will possess the earth." (Psalm 37:10, 11) Peace will exist because 'God will make wars cease to the ends of the earth.' (Psalm 46:9; Isaiah 2:4) Then "the righteous one will sprout, and the abundance of peace until the moon is no more" —and that means forever! —Psalm 72:7.
18 Jehovah's worshipers will live in security. As long as the Israelites in Bible times obeyed God, they lived in security. (Leviticus 25:18, 19) How wonderful it will be to enjoy similar security in Paradise!—Isaiah 32:18; Micah 4:4.
19 Food shortages will not exist. "There will come to be plenty of grain on the earth," sang the psalmist "On the top of the mountains there will be an overflow." (Psalm 72:16) Jehovah God will bless his righteous ones, and "the earth itself will certainly give its produce." —Psalm 67:6.
20 The whole earth will become a paradise. Lovely new homes and gardens will occupy land that had once been ruined by sinful humans. (Isaiah 65:21-24; Revelation 11: 18) As time passes, parts of the earth already subdued will expand until the whole globe is as beautiful and productive as the garden of Eden. And God will never fail to 'open his hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.'—Psalm 145:16.
21 There will be peace between humans and animals. Wild and domestic animals will feed together. Even a little child will have nothing to fear from animals that are now dangerous.—Isaiah 11:6-9; 65:25.
19. Why do we know that food will be abundant in God's new world?
20. Why can we be sure that the whole earth will become a paradise? 21. What shows that peace will exist between humans and animals?
36 What Does the Bible Really Teach?
22 Sickness will vanish. As Ruler of God's heavenly Kingdom, Jesus will do healing on a far grander scale than when he was on earth. (Matthew 9:35; Mark 1:40- 42; John 5:5-9) Then "no resident will say: 'I am sick.' " —Isaiah 33:24; 35:5, 6.
23 Dead loved ones will be restored to life with the prospect of never dying. All those sleeping in death who are in God's memory will be brought back to life. In fact, "there is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous."—Acts 24:15; John 5: 28, 29.
24 What a marvelous future awaits those who choose to learn about our Grand Creator, Jehovah God, and to serve him! It was to the coming Paradise on earth that Jesus pointed when he promised the evildoer who died alongside him: "You will be with me in Paradise." (Luke 23:43) It is vital that we learn more about Jesus Christ, through whom all these blessings will be made possible.
22. What will happen to sickness?
23. Why will the resurrection bring joy to our hearts? 24. How do you feel about living in Paradise on earth?
WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES
n God's purpose to make the earth a paradise will be fulfilled.—Isaiah 45:18; 55:11.
n Satan now rules this world.—John 12:31; 1 John 5:19.
n In the coming new world, God will bestow many blessings on mankind.—Psalm 37:10, 11, 29.
Who Is Jesus Christ?
What is Jesus' special role?
Where did he come from?
What kind of person was he?
ATHERE are many famous people in the world. Some are well-known in their own community, city, or country. Others are known worldwide. However, just knowing the name of someone famous does not mean that you truly know him. It does not mean that you know details about his background and what he is really like as a person.
2 People around the world have heard something about Jesus Christ, even though he lived on earth some 2,000 years ago. Yet, many are confused about who Jesus really was. Some say that he was merely a good man. Others claim that he was nothing more than a prophet. Still others believe that Jesus is God and should be worshiped. Should he?
3 It is important for you to know the truth about Jesus. Why? Because the Bible says: "This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ." (John 17:3) Yes, knowing the truth about Jehovah God and about Jesus Christ can lead to everlasting life on a paradise earth. (John 14:6) Furthermore, Jesus sets the best
1, 2. (a) Why does knowing about someone famous not mean that you truly know him? (b) What confusion is there about Jesus?
3. Why is it important for you to know the truth about Jesus?
example of how to live and how to about God. Now let us consider
what the Bible really teaches about Jesus Christ. THE
PROMISED MESSIAH 4 Long before
Jesus was born, the Bible foretold the coming of the one whom God would
send as the Messiah, or Christ. The titles "Messiah"
(from a Hebrew word) and "Christ" (from a Greek word)
both mean Anointed One." This promised One would be anointed,
that is, appointed by God to a special 4. What do the titles "Messiah" and "Christ"
example of how to live and how to
about God. Now let us consider what the Bible really teaches about Jesus Christ.
THE PROMISED MESSIAH
4 Long before Jesus was born, the Bible foretold the coming of the one whom God would send as the Messiah, or Christ. The titles "Messiah" (from a Hebrew word) and "Christ" (from a Greek word) both mean
Anointed One." This promised One would be anointed, that is, appointed by God to a special
4. What do the titles "Messiah" and "Christ" mean?
position. In later chapters of this book, we will learn more about the Messiah's important place in the fulfillment of God's promises. We will also learn about the blessings that Jesus can bring us even now. Before Jesus was born, however, many no doubt wondered, 'Who will prove to be the Messiah?'
5 In the first century C.E., the disciples of Jesus of Nazareth were fully convinced that he was the foretold Messiah. (John 1:41) One of the disciples, a man named Simon Peter, openly said to Jesus: "You are the Christ." (Matthew 16:16) How, though, could those disciples —and how can we—be sure that Jesus really is the promised Messiah?
6 The prophets of God who lived before Jesus foretold many details about the Messiah. These details would help others to identify him. We might illustrate things this way: Suppose you were asked to go to a busy bus depot or a train station or an airport to pick up someone you had never met before. Would it not help if someone gave you a few details about him? Similarly, by means of the Bible prophets, Jehovah gave a rather detailed description of what the Messiah would do and what he would experience. The fulfillment of these many prophecies would help faithful ones to identify him clearly.
7 Consider just two examples. First, over 700 years in advance, the prophet Micah foretold that the promised One would be born in Bethlehem, a small town in the land of Judah. (Micah 5:2) Where was Jesus
5. Of what were the disciples of Jesus fully convinced regarding him?
6. Illustrate how Jehovah has helped faithful ones to identify the Messiah.
7. What are two of the prophecies that were fulfilled in connection with Jesus?
actually born? Why, in that very town! (Matthew 2:1, 3-9) Second, many centuries in advance, the prophecy recorded at Daniel 9:25 pointed to the very year when the Messiah was to appear-29 C.E.* The fulfillment of these and other prophecies proves that Jesus was the promised Messiah.
8 Further proof that Jesus was the Messiah became clear near the end of 29 C.E. That is the year when Jesus went to John the Baptizer to be baptized in the Jordan River. Jehovah had promised John a sign so that he could identify the Messiah. John saw that sign at Jesus' baptism. The Bible says that this is what happened: "After being baptized Jesus immediately came up from the water; and, look! the heavens were opened up, and he saw descending like a dove God's spirit coming upon him. Look! Also, there was a voice from the heavens that said: 'This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved." (Matthew 3:16, 17) After seeing and hearing what happened, John had no doubt that Jesus was sent by. God. (John 1:32-34) At the moment when God's spirit, or active force, was poured out upon him that day, Jesus became the Messiah, or Christ, the one appointed to be Leader and King.—Isaiah 55:4.
9 The fulfillment of Bible prophecy and Jehovah God's own testimony plainly show that Jesus was the promised Messiah. But the Bible answers two other important questions about Jesus Christ: Where did he come from, and what kind of person was he?
* For an explanation of Daniel's prophecy fulfilled in connection with Jesus, see the Appendix, pages 197-9.
11 Jesus is Jehovah's most precious Son—and for good reason. He is called "the firstborn ● of all creation," for he was God's first creation.* (Colossians 1:15) There is something else that makes this Son special. He is the "only-begotten Son." (John 3:16) This means that Jesus is the only one directly created by God. Jesus is also the only one whom God used when He created all other things. (Colossians 1:16) Then, too, Jesus is called "the Word." (John 1:14) This tells us that he spoke for God, no doubt delivering messages and instructions to the Father's other sons, both spirit and human.
* Jehovah is called a Father because he is the Creator. (Isaiah 64:8) Since Jesus was created by God, he is called God's Son. For similar reasons, other spirit creatures and even the man Adam are called sons of God.—Job 1:6; Luke 3:38.
10. What does the Bible teach about Jesus' existence before he came to earth?
11. How does the Bible show that Jesus is Jehovah's most precious Son?
12. How do we know that the firstborn Son is not equal to God?
42 What Does the Bible Really Teach?
trying to be equal to his Father. The Bible clearly teaches that the Father is greater than the Son. (John 14:28; 1 Corinthians 11:3) Jehovah alone is "God Almighty." (Genesis 17:1) Therefore, he has no equal.*
13 Jehovah and his firstborn Son enjoyed close association for billions of years—long before the starry heavens and the earth were created. How they must have loved each other! (John 3:35; 14:31) This dear Son was just like his Father. That is why the Bible refers to the Son as "the image of the invisible God." (Colossians 1:15) Yes, even as a human son may closely resemble his father in various ways, this heavenly Son reflected his Father's qualities and personality.
WHAT KIND OF PERSON WAS JESUS?
15 What Jesus said and did while on earth helps us to get to know him well. More than that, through Jesus we
* For further proof that the firstborn Son is not equal to God, see the Appendix, pages 201-4.
13. What does the Bible mean when it refers to the Son as "the image of the invisible God"?
14. How did Jehovah's only-begotten Son come to be born as a human?
15. Why can we say that through Jesus we come to know Jehovah better?
come to know Jehovah better. Why is this the case? Recall that this Son is a perfect reflection of his Father. That is why Jesus told one of his disciples: "He that has seen me has seen the Father also." (John 14:9) The four Bible books known as the Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—tell us much about the life, activity, and personal qualities of Jesus Christ.
16 was was well-known as "Teacher." (John 1:38; 13:
13) What did he teach? Primarily, his message was "the good news of the kingdom"—that is, God's Kingdom, the heavenly government that will rule over the entire earth and will bring endless blessings to obedient humans. (Matthew 4:23) Whose message was this? Jesus himself said: "What I teach is not mine, but belongs to him that sent me," namely, Jehovah. (John 7:16) Jesus knew that his Father wants humans to hear about the good news of the Kingdom. In Chapter 8, we will learn more about God's Kingdom and what it will accomplish.
17 Where did Jesus do his teaching? Everywhere he found people—in the countryside as well as in cities, in villages, in marketplaces, and in their homes. Jesus did not expect people to come to him. He went to them. (Mark 6:56; Luke 19:5, 6) Why did Jesus go to such lengths and spend so much of his time preaching and teaching? Because doing so was God's will for him. Jesus always did his Father's will. (John 8:28, 29) But there was another reason why he preached. He felt compassion for the crowds of people who came out to see him. (Matthew 9:35, 36) They were neglected by their religious leaders,
16. What was Jesus' primary message, and where did his teachings come from?
17. Where did Jesus do his teaching, and why did he go to great lengths to teach others?
who should have been teaching them the truth about God and his purposes. Jesus knew how much the people needed to hear the Kingdom message.
18 Jesus was a man of tender warmth and deep feelings. Others thus found him to be approachable and kind. Even children felt at ease with him. (Mark 10:13-16) Jesus was impartial. He hated corruption and injustice. (Matthew 21:12, 13) At a time when women received little respect and had few privileges, he treated them with dignity. (John 4:9, 27) Jesus was genuinely humble. On one occasion, he washed the feet of his apostles, a service usually performed by a lowly servant.
19 Jesus was sensitive to the needs of others. This was especially evident when, under the power of God's spirit, he performed miracles of healing. (Matthew 14:14)
18. What qualities of Jesus do you find most appealing?
19. What example shows that Jesus was sensitive to the needs of others?
For example, a man with leprosy came to Jesus and said: "If you just want to, you can make me clean." Jesus personally felt this man's pain and suffering. Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched the man, saying: "I want to. Be made clean." And the sick man was healed! (Mark 1:40-42) Can you imagine how that man must have felt?
FAITHFUL TO THE END
God's work. Despite insults and abuse, Jesus maintained self-control, never trying to harm his opposers.-1 Peter 2:21-23.
21 Jesus remained faithful until death—a cruel and painful death at the hands of his enemies. (Philippians 2:8) Consider what he endured on the last day of his life as a human. He was arrested, accused by false witnesses, convicted by corrupt judges, laughed at by mobs, and tortured by soldiers. Nailed to a stake, he took his last breath, crying out: "It has been accomplished!" (John 19: 30) However, on the third day after Jesus died, his heavenly Father resurrected him back to spirit life[xxi] [xxii]. (1 Peter 3:18) A few weeks later, he returned to heaven. There, he "sat down at the right hand of God" and waited to receive kingly power.—Hebrews 10:12, 13.
22 What did Jesus accomplish by remaining faithful until death? Jesus' death actually opens to us the opportunity for eternal life on a paradise earth, in harmony with Jehovah's original purpose. How Jesus' death makes that possible will be discussed in the next chapter.
22. What did Jesus accomplish by remaining faithful until death?
WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES
n Fulfilled prophecy and God's own testimony prove that Jesus is the Messiah, or Christ. —Matthew 16:16.
n Jesus lived in heaven as a spirit creature long before he came to earth.—John 3:13.
n Jesus was a teacher, a man of tender warmth, and an example of perfect obedience to God.—Matthew 9:35, 36.
What is the ransom?
How was it provided?
What can it mean for you?
can you show that you
WHAT is the greatest gift you have ever received? A gift does not have to be expensive to be important. After all, the true value of a gift is not necessarily measured in terms of money. Rather, when a gift brings you happiness or fills a real need in your life, it has great value to you personally.
2 Of the many gifts you could ever hope to receive, there is one that stands out above all others. It is a gift from God to mankind. Jehovah has given us many things, but his greatest gift to us is the ransom sacrifice of his Son, Jesus Christ. (Matthew 20:28) As we will see in this chapter, the ransom is the most valuable gift you could possibly receive, for it can bring you untold happiness and can fill your most important needs. The ransom is really the greatest expression of Jehovah's love for you.
1, 2. (a) When does a gift have great value to you personally? (b) Why can it be said that the ransom is the most valuable gift you could ever receive?
WHAT IS THE RANSOM?
3 Put simply, the ransom is Jehovah's means to deliver, or save, humankind from sin and death[xxiii] [xxiv]. (Ephesians 1:7) To grasp the meaning of this Bible teaching, we need to think back to what happened in the garden of Eden. Only if we understand what Adam lost when he sinned can we appreciate why the ransom is such a valuable gift to us.
4 When he created Adam, Jehovah gave him something truly precious—perfect human life. Consider what that meant for Adam. Made with a perfect body and mind, he would never get sick, grow old, or die. As a perfect human, he had a special relationship with Jehovah. The Bible says that Adam was a "son of God." (Luke 3:38) So Adam enjoyed a close relationship with Jehovah God, like that of a son with a loving father. Jehovah communicated with his earthly son, giving Adam satisfying assignments of work and letting him know what was expected of him.—Genesis 1:28-30; 2:16, 17.
Adam was made "in God's image." (Genesis 1:27) That did not mean that Adam resembled God in appearance. As we learned in Chapter 1 of this book, Jehovah is an invisible spirit. (John 4:24) So Jehovah does not have a body of flesh and blood. Being made in God's image meant that Adam was created with qualities like those of God, including love, wisdom, justice, and power. Adam was like his Father in another important way in that he possessed free will. Hence, Adam was not like
3. What is the ransom, and what do we need to understand in order to appreciate this valuable gift?
4. What did perfect human life mean for Adam?
5. What does the Bible mean when it says that Adam was made "in God's image"?
The Ransom—God's Greatest Gift 49
a machine that can perform only what it is designed or programmed to do. Instead, he could make personal decisions, choosing between right and wrong. If he had chosen to obey God, he would have lived forever in Paradise on earth.
6 Clearly, then, when Adam disobeyed God and was condemned to death, he paid a very high price. His sin cost him his perfect human life with all its blessings. (Genesis 3:17-19) Sadly, Adam lost this precious life not only for himself but also for his future offspring. God's Word says: "Through one man [Adam] sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because they had all sinned." (Romans 5:12) Yes, all of us have inherited sin from Adam. Hence, the Bible says that he "sold" himself and his offspring into slavery to sin and death. (Romans 7:14) There was no hope for Adam or Eve because they willfully chose to disobey God. But what about their offspring, including us?
Jehovah came to mankind's rescue by means of the ransom. What is a ransom? The idea of a ransom basically involves two things. First, a ransom is the price paid to bring about a release or to buy something back. It might be compared to the price paid for the release of a prisoner of war. Second, a ransom is the price that covers, or pays, the cost of something. It is similar to the price paid to cover the damages caused by an injury. For example, if a person causes an accident, he would have to pay an amount that fully corresponds to, or equals, the value of what was damaged.
6. When Adam disobeyed God, what did he lose, and how were his offspring affected?
7, 8. A ransom basically involves what two things?
8 How would it be possible to cover the enormous loss that Adam inflicted on all of us and to release us from slavery to sin and death? Let us consider the ransom that Jehovah provided and what this can mean for you.
9 Since a perfect human life was lost, no imperfect human life could ever buy it back. (Psalm 49:7, 8) What was needed was a ransom equal in value to what was lost. This is in harmony with the principle of perfect justice found in God's Word, which says: "Soul will be for soul." (Deuteronomy 19:21) So, what would cover the value of the perfect human soul, or life, that Adam lost? Another perfect human life was the "corresponding ransom[xxv] [xxvi]" that was required. 1 Timothy 2:6.
10 How did Jehovah provide the ransom? He sent one of his perfect spirit sons to the earth. But Jehovah did not send just any spirit creature. He sent the one most precious to him, his only-begotten Son. (1 John 4:9, 10) Willingly, this Son left his heavenly home. (Philippians 2:7) As we learned in the preceding chapter of this book, Jehovah performed a miracle when he transferred the life of this Son to the womb of Mary[xxvii] [xxviii]. By means of God's holy spirit, Jesus was born as a perfect human and was not under the penalty of sin. Luke 1:35.
11 How could one man serve as a ransom for many, in fact, millions of humans? Well, how did humans numbering into the millions come to be sinners in the first place? Recall that by sinning, Adam lost the precious
9. What sort of ransom was required?
10. How did Jehovah provide the ransom?
11. How could one man serve as a ransom for millions?
The Ransom—God's Greatest Gift 51
possession of perfect human life. Hence, he could not pass it on to his offspring. Instead, he could pass on only sin and death. Jesus, whom the Bible calls "the last Adam," had a perfect human life, and he never sinned. (1 Corinthians 15:45) In a sense, Jesus stepped into Adam's place in order to save us. By sacrificing, or giving up, his perfect life in flawless obedience to God, Jesus paid the price for Adam's sin. Jesus thus brought hope to Adam's offspring.—Romans 5:19; 1 Corinthians 15: 21, 22.
12 The Bible describes in detail the suffering that Jesus endured before his death. He experienced harsh whipping, cruel impalement, and an agonizing death on a torture stake. (John 19:1, 16-18, 30; Appendix, pages 204-6) Why was it necessary for Jesus to suffer so much? In a later chapter of this book, we will see that Satan has questioned whether Jehovah has any human servants who would remain faithful under trial. By enduring faithfully in spite of great suffering, Jesus gave the best possible answer to Satan's challenge. Jesus proved that a perfect man possessing free will could keep perfect integrity to God no matter what the Devil did. Jehovah must have rejoiced greatly over the faithfulness of his dear Son!—Proverbs 27:11.
13 How was the ransom paid? On the 14th day of the Jewish month Nisan in 33 C.E., God allowed his perfect and sinless Son to be executed. Jesus thus sacrificed his perfect human life "once for all time." (Hebrews 10:10) On the third day after Jesus died, Jehovah raised him back to spirit life.[xxix] [xxx] In heaven, Jesus presented to God the value of his perfect human life sacrificed as a ransom in
The Ransom—God's Greatest Gift 53
exchange for Adam's offspring. (Hebrews 9:24) Jehovah accepted the value of Jesus' sacrifice as the ransom needed to deliver mankind from slavery to sin and death. —Romans 3:23, 24.
WHAT THE RANSOM CAN MEAN FOR YOU
14 Despite our sinful condition, we can enjoy priceless blessings because of the ransom. Let us consider some of the present and future benefits of this greatest gift from God.
15 The forgiveness of sins. Because of inherited imperfection, we have a real struggle to do what is right. All of us sin either in word or in deed. But by means of Jesus' ransom sacrifice, we can receive "the forgiveness of our sins." (Colossians 1:13, 14) To gain that forgiveness, however, we must be truly repentant. We must also humbly appeal to Jehovah, asking his forgiveness on the basis of our faith in the ransom sacrifice of his Son. —1 John 1:8, 9.
16 A clean conscience before God. A guilty conscience can easily lead to hopelessness and make us feel worthless. Through the forgiveness made possible by the ransom, though, Jehovah kindly enables us to worship him with a clean conscience despite our imperfection. (Hebrews 9:13, 14) This makes it possible for us to have freeness of speech with Jehovah. Therefore, we can freely approach him in prayer. (Hebrews 4:14- 16) Maintaining a clean conscience gives peace of mind, promotes self-respect, and contributes to happiness.
14, 15. To receive "the forgiveness of our sins," what must we do? 16. What enables us to worship God with a clean conscience, and what is the value of such a conscience?
more about Jehovah
is one way to show
that you appreciate
his gift of the
17 The hope of everlasting life on a paradise earth. "The wages sin pays is death," says Romans 6.23 The same verse adds: "But the gift God gives is everlasting life by Christ Jesus our Lord." In Chapter 3 of this book, we discussed the blessings of the coming earthly Paradise. (Revelation 21:3, 4) All those future blessings, including life everlasting in perfect health, are made possible because Jesus died for us. To receive those blessings, we need to show that we appreciate the gift of the ransom.
HOW CAN YOU SHOW YOUR APPRECIATION?
18 Why should we be deeply grateful to Jehovah for the ransom? Well, a gift is especially precious when it involves a sacrifice of time, effort, or expense on the part of the giver. Our heart is touched when we see that a gift is an expression of the giver's genuine love for us. The ransom is the most precious of all gifts, for God made the greatest sacrifice ever in providing it. "God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son,"
17. What blessings are made possible because Jesus died for us?
18. Why should we be grateful to Jehovah for the provision of the ransom?
The Ransom—God's Greatest Gift SS
says John 3:16. The ransom is the most outstanding evidence of Jehovah's love for us. It is also proof of Jesus' love, for he willingly gave his life in our behalf. (John 15: 13) The gift of the ransom should therefore convince us that Jehovah and his Son love us as individuals.—Galatians 2:20.
19 How, then, can you demonstrate that you appreciate God's gift of the ransom? To begin with, get to know more about the Great Giver, Jehovah. (John 17:3) A study of the Bible with the aid of this publication will help you to do that. As you grow in knowledge of Jehovah, your love for him will deepen. In turn, that love will make you want to please him.-1 John 5:3.
20 Exercise faith in Jesus' ransom sacrifice. Jesus himself said: "He that exercises faith in the Son has everlasting life." (John 3:36) How can we exercise faith in Jesus? Such faith is not shown by words alone. "Faith without works is dead," says James 2:26. Yes, true faith is proved by "works," that is, by our actions. One way to show that we have faith in Jesus is by doing our best to imitate him not just in what we say but also in what we do. —John 13:15.
21 Attend the annual observance of the Lord's Evening Meal. On the evening of Nisan 14, 33 C.E., Jesus introduced a special observance that the Bible calls "the Lord's evening meal." (1 Corinthians 11:20; Matthew 26:26-28) This observance is also called the Memorial of Christ's death. Jesus instituted it to help his apostles and
19, 20. In what ways can you show that you appreciate God's gift of the ransom?
21, 22. (a) Why should we attend the annual observance of the Lord's Evening Meal? (b) What will be explained in Chapters 6 and 7?
56 What Does the Bible Really Teach?
all true Christians after them to bear in mind that by means of his death as a perfect human, he gave his soul, or life, as a ransom. Regarding this observance, Jesus commanded: "Keep doing this in remembrance of me." (Luke 22:19) Observing the Memorial reminds us of the great love shown by both Jehovah and Jesus in connection with the ransom. We can show our appreciation for the ransom by being present at the yearly observance of the Memorial of Jesus' death.*
22 Jehovah's provision of the ransom is indeed an invaluable gift. (2 Corinthians 9:14, 15) This priceless gift can benefit even those who have died. Chapters 6 and 7 will explain how.
* For more information about the meaning of the Lord's Evening Meal, see the Appendix, pages 206-8.
WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES
n The ransom is Jehovah's means to deliver human kind from sin and death.
n Jehovah provided the, ransom by sending his only-begotten Son to earth to die for us. —1 John 4:9, 10.
n By means of the ransom, we gain the forgiveness of sins, a clean conscience, and the hope of everlasting life.-1 John 1:8, 9.
n We show that we appreciate the ransom by getting to know more about Jehovah, by exercising faith in Jesus' ransom sacrifice, and by attending the Lord's Evening Meal. —John 3:16.
CHAPTER SIX ●
What happens to us when we die?
Why do we die?
Would it be comforting to know
the truth about death?
THESE are questions that people have thought about for thousands of years. They are important questions. No matter who we are or where we live, the answers concern each one of us.
2 In the preceding chapter, we discussed how the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ opened the way to everlasting life. We also learned that the Bible foretells a time when "death will be no more." (Revelation 21:4) Meanwhile, we all die. "The living are conscious that they will die," said wise King Solomon. (Ecclesiastes 9:5) We try to live as long as possible. Still, we wonder what will happen to us when we die.
3 When our loved ones die, we mourn. And we may ask: 'What has happened to them? Are they suffering? Are they watching over us? Can we help them? Will we ever see them again?' The world's religions offer differing answers to these questions. Some teach that if you live a good life, you will go to heaven but if you live a bad life, you will burn in a place of torment. Other religions teach that at death, people pass on to the spirit realm to be with
their ancestors. Still other religions teach that the dead go to an underworld to be judged and are then reincarnated, or reborn in another body.
4 Such religious teachings all share one basic idea—that some part of us survives the death of the physical body. According to almost every religion, past and present, we somehow live on forever with the ability to see, hear, and think. Yet, how can that be? Our senses, along with our thoughts, are all linked to the workings of our brain. At death, the brain stops working. Our memories, feelings, and senses do not continue to function independently in some mysterious way. They do not survive the destruction of our brain.
WHAT REALLY HAPPENS AT DEATH?
5 What happens at death is no mystery to Jehovah, the Creator of the brain. He knows the truth, and in his Word, the Bible, he explains the condition of the dead. Its clear teaching is this: When a person dies, he ceases to exist.[xxxi] [xxxii] Death is the opposite of life. The dead do not see or hear or think. Not even one part of us survives the death of the body. We do not possess an immortal soul or spirit.*
6 After Solomon observed that the living know that they will die, he wrote: "As for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all.[xxxiii] [xxxiv] " He then enlarged on that basic truth by saying that the dead can neither love nor hate and that "there is no work nor devising nor knowledge nor wisdom in [the grave]." (Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6, 10) Similarly, Psalm 146:4 says that when a man dies, "his
* For a discussion of the words "soul" and "spirit," please see the Appendix, pages 208-11 (Skip).
Where Are the Dead?
thoughts do perish." We are mortal and do not survive the death of our body. The life we enjoy is like the flame of a candle. When the flame is put out, it does not go anywhere. It is simply gone.
WHAT JESUS SAID ABOUT DEATH
7 Jesus Christ spoke about the condition of the dead. He did so with regard to Lazarus, a man whom he knew well and who had died. Jesus told his disciples: "Lazarus our friend has gone to rest." The disciples thought that Jesus meant that Lazarus was resting in sleep, recovering from an illness. They were wrong. Jesus explained. "Lazarus has died." (John 11:11-14) Notice that Jesus compared death to rest and sleep Lazarus was neither in heaven nor in a burning hell. He was not meeting angels or ancestors. Lazarus was not being reborn as another human. He was at rest in death, as though in a deep sleep without dreams. Other scriptures also compare death to sleep. For example, when the disciple Stephen was stoned to death, the Bible says that he "fell asleep." (Acts 7:60) Similarly, the apostle Paul wrote about some in his day who had "fallen asleep" in death.-1 Corinthians 15:6.
8 Was it God's original purpose for people to die? Not at all! Jehovah made man to live forever on earth. As we learned earlier in this book, God placed the first human couple in a delightful paradise. He blessed them with
60 What Does the Bible Really Teach?
perfect health. Jehovah wanted only good for them. Does any loving parent want his children to suffer the pain of old age and death? Of course not! Jehovah loved his children and wanted them to enjoy endless happiness on earth. Concerning humans, the Bible says: "Time indefinite [Jehovah] has put in their heart." (Ecclesiastes 3:11) God created us with the desire to live forever. And he has opened the way for that desire to be fulfilled.
WHY HUMANS DIE
9 Why, then, do humans die? To find the answer, we must consider what happened when there was only one man and one woman on earth. The Bible explains: "Jehovah God made to grow out of the ground every tree desirable to one's sight and good for food." (Genesis 2:9) However, there was one restriction. Jehovah told Adam: "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 positively die." (Genesis 2:16, 17) This command was not difficult to obey. There were many other trees from which Adam and Eve could eat. But they now received a special opportunity to show their gratitude to the One who had given them everything, including perfect life. Their obedience would also show that they respected the authority of their heavenly Father and that they wanted his loving direction.
10 Sadly, the first human couple chose to disobey Jehovah. Speaking through a serpent, Satan asked Eve: "Is it really so that God said you must not eat from every tree of the garden?" Eve replied: "Of the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat. But as for eating of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, God has said, `You must not eat from it, no, you must not touch it that you do not die.' "—Genesis 3:1-3.
"You positively will not die," said Satan. "God knows that in the very day of your eating from it your eyes are bound to be opened and you are bound to be like God, knowing good and bad." (Genesis 3:4, 5) Satan wanted
9. What restriction did Jehovah place upon Adam, and why was this command not difficult to obey?
10, 11. (a) How did the first human couple come to disobey God? (b) Why was the disobedience of Adam and Eve a serious matter?
62 What Does the Bible Really Teach?
Eve to believe that she would benefit by eating the forbidden fruit. According to him, she could decide for herself what was right and what was wrong; she could do what she wanted. Satan also charged that Jehovah had lied about the consequences of eating the fruit. Eve believed Satan. So she picked some of the fruit and ate it. She then gave some to her husband, and he too ate some of it. They did not act in ignorance. They knew that they were doing exactly what God had told them not to do. By eating the fruit, they deliberately disobeyed a simple and reasonable command. They showed contempt for their heavenly Father and his authority. Such disrespect for their loving Creator was inexcusable!
12 To illustrate: How would you feel if you raised and cared for a son or a daughter who then disobeyed you in a way that showed that he or she had no respect or love for you? That would cause you much heartache. Imagine, then, how hurt Jehovah must have felt when both Adam and Eve took a course of opposition to him.
13 Jehovah had no reason to sustain disobedient Adam and Eve forever. They died, just as he had said they would. Adam and Eve ceased to exist. They did not pass on to the spirit realm. We know this because of what Jehovah said to Adam after confronting him with his disobedience. God said: "You [will] return to the ground, for out of it you were taken. For dust you are and to dust you will return." (Genesis 3:19) God had made Adam from the dust of the ground. (Genesis 2:7) Before that, Adam did not exist. Therefore, when Jehovah said that Adam would return to the dust, He meant that Adam would return to a state of nonexistence. Adam would be as lifeless as the dust from which he was made.
" Adam and Eve could have been alive today, but they died because they chose to disobey God and thus sinned. The reason we die is that Adam's sinful condition as well as death was passed on to all of his descendants. (Romans 5:12) That sin is like a terrible inherited disease from which no one can escape. Its consequence, death, is a curse. Death is an enemy, not a friend. (1 Corinthians 15:26) How grateful we can be that Jehovah provided the ransom to rescue us from this dreadful enemy!
12. What may help us to understand how Jehovah felt when Adam and Eve took a course of opposition to him?
13. What did Jehovah say would happen to Adam at death, and what does this mean?
14. Why do we die?
KNOWING THE TRUTH
ABOUT DEATH IS BENEFICIAL
15 What the Bible teaches about the condition of the dead is comforting[xxxv] [xxxvi]. As we have seen, the dead do not suffer pain or heartache. There is no reason to be afraid of them, for they cannot harm us. They do not need our help, and they cannot help us. We cannot speak with them, and they cannot speak with us. Many religious leaders falsely claim that they can help those who have died, and people who believe such leaders give them money. But knowing the truth protects us from being deceived by those who teach such lies.
16 Does your religion agree with what the Bible teaches about the dead[xxxvii] [xxxviii]? Most do not. Why? Because their teachings have been influenced by Satan. He uses false religion to get people to believe that after their body dies, they will continue to live in the spirit realm. This is a lie that Satan combines with other lies to turn people away from Jehovah God. How so?
17 As noted earlier, some religions teach that if a person lives a bad life ,after death he will go to a place of fiery torment to suffer forever. This teaching dishonors God[xxxix] [xl]. Jehovah is a God of love and would never make people suffer in this way. (1 John 4:8) How would you feel about a man who punished a disobedient child by holding his hands in a fire? Would you respect such a man? In fact, would you even want to get to know him? Definitely not! You would likely think that he was very cruel. Yet, Satan wants us to believe that Jehovah tortures people in fire forever for countless billions of years!
15. Why is it comforting to know the truth about death?
16. Who has influenced the teachings of many religions, and in what way?
17. Why does the teaching of eternal torment dishonor Jehovah?
18 Satan also uses some religions to teach that after death people become spirits who must be respected and honored by the living. According to this teaching, the spirits of the dead can become powerful friends or terrible enemies. Many people believe this lie. They fear the dead and give them honor and worship. In contrast, the Bible teaches that the dead are sleeping and that we should worship only the true God, Jehovah, our Creator and Provider.—Revelation 4:11.
19 Knowing the truth about the dead protects you from being misled by religious lies. It also helps you to understand other Bible teachings. For example, when you realize that people do not pass on to the spirit realm at death, the promise of everlasting life on a paradise earth takes on real meaning for you.
20 Long ago, the righteous man Job raised this question: "If an able-bodied man dies can he live again?" (Job 14:14) Can a lifeless person who is sleeping in death be brought back to life? What the Bible teaches about this is deeply comforting, as the next chapter will show.
18. Worship of the dead is based on what religious lie?
19. Knowing the truth about death helps us to understand what other Bible teaching?
20. What question will we consider in the next chapter?
WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES
n The dead do not see or hear or think. —Ecclesiastes 9:5.
n The dead are at rest; they do not suffer. —John 11:11.
n We die because we inherited sin from Adam. —Romans 5:12.
How do we know that the resurrection
will really happen?
How does Jehovah feel about resurrecting
Who will be resurrected?
IMAGINE that you are running away from a vicious enemy. He is much stronger and faster than you are. You know that he is merciless because you have seen him kill some of your friends. No matter how hard you try to outrun him, he keeps getting closer. There seems to be no hope. Suddenly, though, a rescuer appears at your side. He is far more powerful than your enemy, and he promises to help you. How relieved that makes you feel!
2 In a sense, you are being pursued by such an enemy. All of us are. As we learned in the preceding chapter, the Bible calls death an enemy. None of us can outrun it or fight it off. Most of us have seen this enemy claim the lives of people dear to us. But Jehovah is far more powerful than death. He is the loving Rescuer who has already shown that he can defeat this enemy. And he promises to destroy this enemy, death, once and for all. The Bible teaches: "As the last enemy, death is to be brought to nothing." (1 Corinthians 15:26) That is good news!
1-3. What enemy pursues all of us, and why will considering what the Bible teaches bring us some relief?
Real Hope for Your Loved Ones Who Have Died 67
Let us take a brief look at how the enemy death affects us when it strikes. Doing this will help us to appreciate something that will make us happy. You see, Jehovah promises that the dead will live again. (Isaiah 26: 19) They will be brought back to life. That is the hope of the resurrection.
WHEN A LOVED ONE DIES
4 Have you lost a loved one in death? The pain, the grief, and the feelings of helplessness can seem unbearable. At such times, we need to go to God's Word for comfort. (2 Corinthians 1:3, 4) The Bible helps us to understand how Jehovah and Jesus feel about death. Jesus, who perfectly reflected his Father, knew the pain of losing someone in death. (John 14:9) When he was in Jerusalem, Jesus used to visit Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha, who lived in the nearby town of Bethany. They became close friends. The Bible says: "Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus." (John 11:5) As we learned in the preceding chapter, though, Lazarus died.
How did Jesus feel about losing his friend? The account tells us that Jesus joined Lazarus' relatives and friends as they grieved over this loss. Seeing them, Jesus was deeply moved. He "groaned in the spirit and became troubled." Then, the account says, "Jesus gave way to tears." (John 11:33, 35) Did Jesus' grief mean that he had no hope? Not at all. In fact, Jesus knew that something wonderful was about to happen. (John 11:3, 4) Still, he felt the pain and sorrow that death brings.
6 In a way, Jesus' grief is encouraging to us. It teaches
4. (a) Why does Jesus' reaction to the death of a loved one teach us about Jehovah's feelings? (b) Jesus developed what special friendship?
5, 6. (a) How did Jesus respond when he was with Lazarus' grieving family and friends? (b) Why is Jesus' grief encouraging to us?
68 What Does the Bible Really Teach?
us that Jesus and his Father, Jehovah, hate death. But Jehovah God is able to fight and overcome that enemy! Let us see what God enabled Jesus to do.
"LAZARUS, COME ON OUT!"
7 Lazarus had been buried in a cave, and Jesus asked that the stone sealing its entrance be taken away. Martha objected because after four days, Lazarus' body must have begun to decay. (John 11:39) From a human standpoint, what hope was there?
8 The stone was rolled away, and Jesus cried out with a loud voice: "Lazarus, come on out!" What happened? "The man that had been dead came out." (John 11:43, 44) Can you imagine the joy of the people there? Whether Lazarus was their brother, relative, friend, or neighbor, they knew that he had died. Yet, here he was—the same dear man—standing among them again. That must have seemed too good to be true. Many no doubt embraced Lazarus joyfully. What a victory over death!
9 Jesus did not claim to perform this amazing miracle on his own. In his prayer just before calling out to Lazarus, he made it clear that Jehovah was the Source of the resurrection. (John 11:41, 42) This was not the only time that Jehovah used his power in this way. The resurrection of Lazarus is just one of nine miracles of this kind recorded in God's Word.* To read and study these accounts is a
* The other accounts are found at 1 Kings 17:17-24; 2 Kings 4:3237; 13:20, 21; Matthew 28:5-7; Luke 7:11-17; 8:40-56; Acts 9:36-42; and 20:7-12.
7, 8. Why might the case of Lazarus have seemed hopeless to human onlookers, but what did Jesus do?
9, 10. (a) How did Jesus reveal the Source of his power to resurrect Lazarus? (b) What are some of the benefits of reading the Bible's resurrection accounts?
70 What Does the Bible Really Teach?
delight. They teach us that God is not partial, for the resurrected ones include young and old, male and female, Israelite and non-Israelite. And what joy is described in these passages! For example, when Jesus raised a young girl from the dead, her parents "were beside themselves with great ecstasy." (Mark 5:42) Yes, Jehovah had given them a cause for joy that they would never forget.
1° Of course, those resurrected by Jesus eventually died again. Does this mean that it was pointless to resurrect them? Not at all. These Bible accounts confirm important truths and give us hope.
LEARNING FROM THE RESURRECTION ACCOUNTS
11 The Bible teaches that the dead "are conscious of nothing at all." They are not alive and have no conscious existence anywhere. The account of Lazarus confirms this. Upon returning to life, did Lazarus thrill people with descriptions of heaven? Or did he terrify them with horrible tales about a burning hell? No. The Bible contains no such words from Lazarus. During the four days that he was dead, he had been "conscious of nothing at all." (Ecclesiastes 9:5) Lazarus had simply been sleeping in death.—John 11:11.
12 The account of Lazarus also teaches us that the resurrection is a reality, not a mere myth. Jesus raised Lazarus in front of a crowd of eyewitnesses. Even the religious leaders, who hated Jesus, did not deny this miracle. Rather, they said: "What are we to do, because this man [Jesus] performs many signs?" (John 11:47) Many people went to see the resurrected man. As a result, even more of them
11. How does the account of Lazarus' resurrection help to confirm the truth recorded at Ecclesiastes 9:5?
12. Why can we be sure that the resurrection of Lazarus really happened?
put faith in Jesus. They saw in Lazarus living proof that Jesus was sent by God. This evidence was so powerful that some of the hardhearted Jewish religious leaders planned to kill both Jesus and Lazarus. John 11:53; 12:9-11.
13 Is it unrealistic to accept the resurrection as a fact? No, for Jesus taught that someday "all those in the memorial tombs" will be resurrected. (John 5:28) Jehovah is the Creator of all life. Should it be hard to believe that he can re-create life? Of course, much would depend on Jehovah's memory. Can he remember our dead loved ones? Countless trillions of stars fill the universe, yet God gives the name of each one! (Isaiah 40:26) So Jehovah God can remember[xli] [xlii] our dead loved ones in every detail, and he is ready to restore them to life.
14 How, though, does Jehovah feel about resurrecting the dead? The Bible teaches that he is eager to raise the dead. The faithful man Job asked: "If an able-bodied man dies can he live again?" Job was speaking about waiting in the grave until the time came for God to remember him. He said to Jehovah: "You will call, and I myself shall answer you. For the work of your hands you will have a yearning."—Job 14:13-15.
15 Just think! Jehovah actually yearns to bring the dead back to life. Is it not heartwarming to learn that Jehovah feels that way? But what about this future resurrection? Who will be resurrected, and where?
"ALL THOSE IN THE MEMORIAL TOMBS"
16 The Bible's resurrection accounts teach us much
13. What basis do we have for believing that Jehovah really can resurrect the dead?
14, 15. As illustrated by what Job said, how does Jehovah feel about bringing the dead back to life?
16. The dead will be resurrected to live in what kind of conditions?
72 What Does the Bible Really Teach?
about the resurrection to come. People who were restored to life right here on earth were reunited with their loved ones. The future resurrection will be similar—but much better. As we learned in Chapter 3, God's purpose is that the whole earth be made into a paradise. So the dead will not be raised to life in a world filled with war, crime, and sickness. They will have an opportunity to live forever on this earth in peaceful and happy conditions.
17 Who will be resurrected? Jesus said that "all those in the memorial tombs will hear his [Jesus'] voice and come out." (John 5:28, 29) Similarly, Revelation 20:13 says: "The sea gave up those dead in it, and death and Hades gave up those dead in them." "Hades" refers to the common grave of mankind. (See the Appendix, pages 212-13.) This collective grave will be emptied. All those billions who rest there will live again. The apostle Paul said: "There is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous." (Acts 24:15) What does that mean?
18 "The righteous" include many of the people we read about in the Bible who lived before Jesus came to the earth. You might think of Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Ruth, Esther, and many others. Some of these men and women of faith are discussed in the 1 lth chapter of Hebrews. But "the righteous" also include Jehovah's servants who die in our time. Thanks to the resurrection hope, we may be freed from any dread of dying.—Hebrews 2:15.
17. How extensive will the resurrection be?
18. Who are included among "the righteous" who are to be resurrected, and how may this hope affect you personally?
19. Who are "the unrighteous," and what opportunity does Jehovah kindly give them?
lions of "unrighteous" ones will not be forgotten. They too will be resurrected and given time to learn about the true God and to serve him. During a period of a thousand years, the dead will be resurrected and given an opportunity to join faithful humans on earth in serving Jehovah. It will be a wonderful time. This period is what the Bible refers to as Judgment Day.*
20 Does this mean that every human who ever lived will be resurrected? No. The Bible says that some of the dead are in "Gehenna." (Luke 12:5) Gehenna got its name from a garbage dump located outside of ancient Jerusalem. Dead bodies and garbage were burned there. The dead whose bodies were thrown there were considered by the Jews to be unworthy of a burial and a resurrection. So Gehenna is a fitting symbol of everlasting destruction. Although Jesus will have a role in judging the living and the dead, Jehovah is the final Judge. (Acts 10:42) He will never resurrect those whom he judges to be wicked and unwilling to change.
THE HEAVENLY RESURRECTION
21 The Bible also refers to another kind of resurrection[xlv] [xlvi], one to life as a spirit creature in heaven. Only one example of this type of resurrection is recorded in the Bible, that of Jesus Christ.
22 After Jesus was put to death as a human, Jehovah did not allow His faithful Son to remain in the grave. (Psalm 16:10; Acts 13:34, 35) God resurrected Jesus, but not as a human. The apostle Peter explains that Christ was "put
* For more information on Judgment Day and the basis for judgment, please see the Appendix, pages 213-15.
20. What is Gehenna, and who go there?
21, 22. (a) What other kind of resurrection is there? (b) Who was the first ever to receive a resurrection to spirit life?
74 What Does the Bible Really Teach?
to death in the flesh, but . . . made alive in the spirit." (1 Peter 3:18) This truly was a great miracle. Jesus was alive again as a mighty spirit person! (1 Corinthians 15: 3-6) Jesus was the first ever to receive this glorious type of resurrection. (John 3:13) But he would not be the last.
23 Knowing that he would soon return to heaven, Jesus told his faithful followers that he would "prepare a place" for them there. (John 14:2) Jesus referred to those going to heaven as his "little flock." (Luke 12:32) How many are to be in this relatively small group of faithful Christians? According to Revelation 14:1, the apostle John says: "I saw, and, look! the Lamb [Jesus Christ] standing upon the Mount Zion, and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand having his name and the name of his Father written on their foreheads."
24 These 144,000 Christians, including Jesus' faithful apostles, are raised to life in heaven. When does their resurrection take place? The apostle Paul wrote that it would occur during the time of Christ's presence. (1 Corinthians 15:23) As you will learn in Chapter 9, we are now living in that time. So those few remaining ones of the 144,000 who die in our day are instantly resurrected to life in heaven[xlvii] [xlviii]. (1 Corinthians 15:51-55) The vast majority of mankind, however, have the prospect of being resurrected in the future to life in Paradise on earth.
25 Yes, Jehovah really will defeat our enemy death, and it will be gone forever! (Isaiah 25:8) Yet, you may wonder, 'What will those resurrected to heaven do there?' They will form part of a marvelous Kingdom government in heaven. We will learn more about that government in the next chapter.
23, 24. Who make up Jesus' "little flock," and how many will they number?
25. What will be considered in the next chapter?
Real Hope for Your Loved Ones Who Have Died 75
WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES
n The Bible's resurrection accounts give us a sure hope. John 11:39-44.
n Jehovah is eager to bring the dead back to life.—Job 14:13-15.
n All of those in the
common grave of man‑
CHAPTER EIGHT ●
What does the Bible tell us about
the Kingdom of God?
What will God's Kingdom do?
When will the Kingdom cause God's will
to be done on earth?
MILLIONS of people worldwide are familiar with the prayer that many call the Our Father, or the Lord's Prayer. Both expressions refer to a famous prayer given as a model by Jesus Christ himself. It is a very meaningful prayer, and a consideration of its first three petitions will help you to learn more about what the Bible really teaches.
2 At the beginning of this model prayer, Jesus instructed his hearers: "You must pray, then, this way: 'Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified. Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth." (Matthew 6:9-13) What is the significance of these three petitions?
3 We have already learned a lot about God's name, Jehovah. And to some extent we have discussed God's will—what he has done and will yet do for mankind. To what, though, was Jesus referring when he told us to pray: "Let your kingdom come"? What is God's
1. What famous prayer will now be examined?
2. What were three of the things that Jesus taught his disciples to pray for?
3. What do we need to know about God's Kingdom?
Kingdom? How will its coming sanctify God's name, or make it holy? And how is the coming of the Kingdom related to the doing of God's will?
4 God's Kingdom is a government established by Jehovah God with a King chosen by God. Who is the King of God's Kingdom? Jesus Christ. Jesus as King is greater than all human rulers and is called "the King of those who rule as kings and Lord of those who rule as lords." (1 Timothy 6:15) He has the power to do far more good than any human ruler, even the best among them.
From where will God's Kingdom rule? Well, where is Jesus[xlix] [l]? You will remember learning that he was put to death on a torture stake, and then he was resurrected. Shortly thereafter, he ascended to heaven. (Acts 2:33) Hence, that is where God's Kingdom is—in heaven. That is why the Bible calls it a "heavenly kingdom." (2 Timothy 4:18) Although God's Kingdom is in heaven, it will rule over the earth.—Revelation 11:15.
6 What makes Jesus an outstanding King[li] [lii]? For one thing, he will never die. Comparing Jesus with human kings, the Bible calls him "the one alone having immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light." (1 Timothy 6:16) This means that all the good that Jesus does will last. And he will do great and good things.
Consider this Bible prophecy about Jesus: "Upon him the spirit of Jehovah must settle down, the spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the spirit of counsel and of mightiness, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of
4. What is God's Kingdom, and who is its King?
5. From where does God's Kingdom rule, and over what? 6, 7. What makes Jesus an outstanding King?
78 What Does the Bible Really Teach?
Jehovah; and there will be enjoyment by him in the fear of Jehovah. And he will not judge by any mere appearance to his eyes, nor reprove simply according to the thing heard by his ears. And with righteousness he must judge the lowly ones, and with uprightness he must give reproof in behalf of the meek ones of the earth." (Isaiah 11:2-4) Those words show that Jesus was to be a righteous and compassionate King over people on earth. Would you want to have a ruler like that?
8 Here is another truth about God's Kingdom: Jesus will not rule alone. He will have corulers. For example, the apostle Paul told Timothy: "If we go on enduring, we shall also rule together as kings." (2 Timothy 2:12) Yes, Paul, Timothy, and other faithful ones who have been selected by God will rule together with Jesus in the heavenly Kingdom. How many will have that privilege?
9 As pointed out in Chapter 7 of this book, the apostle John was given a vision in which he saw "the Lamb [Jesus Christ] standing upon the Mount Zion [his royal position in heaven], and with him a hundred and forty- four thousand having his name and the name of his Father written on their foreheads." Who are those 144,000? John himself tells us: "These are the ones that keep following the Lamb no matter where he goes. These were bought from among mankind as firstfruits to God and to the Lamb." (Revelation 14:1, 4) Yes, they are faithful followers of Jesus Christ specially chosen to rule in heaven with him. After being raised out of death to heavenly life, "they are to rule as kings over the earth" along with Jesus. (Revelation 5:10) Since the days of the apos‑
8. Who will rule with Jesus?
9. How many will rule with Jesus, and when did God start to choose them?
tles, God has been selecting faithful Christians in order to complete the number 144,000.
10 To arrange for Jesus and the 144,000 to rule mankind is very loving. For one thing, Jesus knows what it is like to be a human and to suffer[liii] [liv]. Paul said that Jesus is "not one who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tested in all respects like ourselves, but without sin." (Hebrews 4:15; 5:8) His corulers too have suffered and endured as humans. In addition, they have struggled with imperfection and coped with all kinds of sickness. Surely, they will understand the problems that humans face!
WHAT WILL GOD'S KINGDOM DO?
11 When Jesus said that his disciples should pray for God's Kingdom to come, he also said that they should pray for God's will to be done "as in heaven, also upon earth." God is in heaven, and his will has always been done there by the faithful angels. In Chapter 3 of this book, however, we learned that a wicked angel stopped doing God's will and caused Adam and Eve to sin. In Chapter 10, we will learn more about what the Bible teaches regarding that wicked angel, whom we know as Satan the Devil. Satan and the angelic spirit creatures who chose to follow him—called demons—were allowed to stay in heaven for a while. Hence, not all in heaven were then doing God's will. That was to change when God's Kingdom would begin to rule. The newly enthroned King, Jesus Christ, was to wage war on Satan. —Revelation 12:7-9.
10. Why is it a loving arrangement for Jesus and the 144,000 to rule over mankind?
11. Why did Jesus say that his disciples should pray for God's will to be done in heaven?
12 The following prophetic words describe what would happen: "I heard a loud voice in heaven say: Now have come to pass the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ, because the accuser of our brothers [Satan] has been hurled down, who accuses them day and night before our God!" (Revelation 12:10) Did you notice two very important events described in that Bible verse? First, God's Kingdom under Jesus Christ begins to rule. Second, Satan is cast out of heaven down to the earth.
13 What have been the results of those two events? Regarding what happened in heaven, we read: "On this account be glad, you heavens and you who reside in them!" (Revelation 12:12) Yes, the faithful angels in heaven rejoice because, with Satan and his demons gone, everyone in heaven is faithful to Jehovah God. There is complete, unbroken peace and harmony there. God's will is being done in heaven.
14 What, though, about the earth? The Bible says: "Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time." (Revelation 12:12) Satan is angry about being cast out of heaven and having just a short time left. In his anger he causes distress, or "woe," on earth. We will learn more about that "woe" in the next chapter. But with that in mind, we could ask, How can the Kingdom cause God's will to be done on earth?
15 Well, remember what God's will is for the earth. You learned about it in Chapter 3. In Eden, God showed that
12. What two important events are described at Revelation 12:10?
13. What has been the result of Satan's being cast out of heaven?
14. What has happened because Satan has been cast down to the earth?
15. What is God's will for the earth?
his will is for this earth to be a paradise filled with an undying, righteous human race. Satan caused Adam and Eve to sin, and that affected the fulfillment of God's will for the earth but did not change it. Jehovah still purposes that "the righteous themselves will possess the earth, and they will reside forever upon it." (Psalm 37:29) And God's Kingdom will accomplish that. In what way?
16 Consider the prophecy found at Daniel 2:44. There we read: "In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin. And the kingdom itself will not be passed on to any other people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite." What does this tell us about God's Kingdom?
17 First, it tells us that God's Kingdom was to be established "in the days of those kings," or while other kingdoms still existed. Second, it tells us that the Kingdom will last forever. It will not be conquered and be replaced by some other government. Third, we see that there will be war between God's Kingdom and the kingdoms of this world. God's Kingdom will be victorious. In the end, it will be the only government over mankind. Then humans will enjoy the best rulership they have ever known.
18 The Bible has much to say about that final war between God's Kingdom and the governments of this world. For example, it teaches that as the end approaches, wicked spirits will spread lies to deceive "the kings of the entire inhabited earth." For what purpose? "To gather them [the kings] together to the war of the great day
16, 17. What does Daniel 2:44 tell us about God's Kingdom?
18. What is the name of the final war between God's Kingdom and the governments of this world?
82 What Does the Bible Really Teach?
of God the Almighty." The kings of the earth will be gathered together to "the place that is called in Hebrew Har-Magedon." (Revelation 16:14, 16) Because of what is said in those two verses, the final conflict between human governments and God's Kingdom is called the battle of Har-Magedon, or Armageddon.
19 What will God's Kingdom achieve by means of Armageddon? Think again about what God's will is for the earth. Jehovah God purposed that the earth be filled with a righteous, perfect human race serving him in Paradise. What prevents that from happening right now? First, we are sinful, and we get sick and die. We learned in Chapter 5, however, that Jesus died for us so that we can live forever. Likely you remember the words recorded in the Gospel of John: "God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life."—John 3:16.
20 Another problem is that many people do wicked things. They lie, cheat, and commit immorality. They do not want to do God's will. People who do wicked things will be destroyed during God's war of Armageddon[lv] [lvi]. (Psalm 37:10) Yet another reason why God's will is not being done on earth is that governments do not encourage people to do it. Many governments have been weak, cruel, or corrupt. The Bible frankly says: "Man has dominated man to his injury." Ecclesiastes 8:9.
21 After Armageddon, mankind will be under just one government, God's Kingdom. That Kingdom will do God's will and bring wonderful blessings. For example,
19, 20. What prevents God's will from being done on earth right now?
21. How will the Kingdom cause God's will to be done on earth?
84 What Daes the Bible Really Mach?
it will remove Satan and his demons. (Revelation 20:1-3) The power of Jesus' sacrifice will be applied so that faithful humans will no longer get sick and die. Instead, under Kingdom rule they will be able to live forever. (Revelation 22:1-3) The earth will be made into a paradise[lvii] [lviii]. Thus the Kingdom will cause God's will to be done on earth and will sanctify God's name. What does this mean? It means that eventually under God's Kingdom everyone alive will honor Jehovah's name.
WHEN DOES GOD'S KINGDOM ACT?
22 When Jesus told his followers to pray, "Let your kingdom come," it was clear that the Kingdom had not come at that time. Did it come when Jesus ascended to heaven? No, because both Peter and Paul said that after Jesus was resurrected, the prophecy at Psalm 110:1 was fulfilled in him: "The utterance of Jehovah to my Lord is: 'Sit at my right hand until I place your enemies as a stool for your feet." (Acts 2:32-34; Hebrews 10:12, 13) There was a waiting period.
22. Why do we know that God's Kingdom did not come when Jesus was on earth or immediately after he was resurrected?
23. (a) When did God's Kingdom begin to rule? (b) What will be discussed in the next chapter?
Kingdom rule, God's will is going to be
done on earth as it is in heaven
What Is God's Kingdom? 85
WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES
n God's Kingdom is a heavenly government with Jesus Christ as King, and from among mankind, 144,000 are taken to rule with him.—Revelation 14:1, 4.
n God's Kingdom will soon destroy human governments, and the earth will become a paradise.—Revelation 16:14, 16.
end in 1914. (Regarding this date, see the Appendix, pages 215-18.) World events that began in 1914 confirm that the calculation of these sincere Bible students was correct. The fulfillment of Bible prophecy shows that in 1914, Christ became King and God's heavenly Kingdom began to rule. Hence, we are living in the "short period of time" that Satan has left. (Revelation 12:12; Psalm 110:2) We can also say with certainty[lxi] [lxii]that soon God's Kingdom will act to cause God's will to be done on earth. Do you find this to be wonderful news? Do you believe that it is true? The next chapter will help you to see that the Bible really does teach these things.
What events in our time were foretold
in the Bible?
What does God's Word say people would be like
in "the last days"?
Regarding "the last days," what good
does the Bible foretell?
HAVE you watched the news on television and wondered, 'What is this world coming to?' Tragic things happen so suddenly and unexpectedly that no human can predict what tomorrow will bring. (James 4:14) However, Jehovah knows what the future holds. (Isaiah 46:10) Long ago his Word, the Bible, foretold not only the bad things happening in our day but also the wonderful things that will occur in the near future.
2 Jesus Christ spoke about the Kingdom of God, which will bring an end to wickedness and make the earth a paradise. (Luke 4:43) People wanted to know when the Kingdom would come. In fact, Jesus' disciples asked him: "What will be the sign of your presence and of the conclusion of the system of things?" (Matthew 24:3) In reply Jesus told them that only Jehovah God knew exactly when the end of this system of things would come. (Matthew 24:36) But Jesus did foretell things that would take
Are We Living in "the Last Days"? 87
place on earth just before the Kingdom would bring true peace and security to mankind. What he foretold is now taking place!
3 Before we examine the evidence that we are living in "the conclusion of the system of things," let us briefly consider a war that no human could possibly have observed. It took place in the invisible spirit realm, and its outcome affects us.
A WAR IN HEAVEN
4 The preceding chapter in this book explained that Jesus Christ became King in heaven in the year 1914. (Daniel 7:13, 14) Soon after he received Kingdom power, Jesus took action. "War broke out in heaven," says the Bible. "Michael [another name for Jesus] and his angels battled with the dragon [Satan the Devil], and the dragon and its angels battled." Satan and his wicked angels, the demons, lost that war and were cast out of heaven to the earth. God's faithful spirit sons rejoiced that Satan and his demons were gone. Humans, however, would experience no such joy. Instead, the Bible foretold: "Woe for the earth . . . because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time."—Revelation 12:7, 9, 12.
5 Please notice what would result from the war in heaven. In his fury, Satan would bring woe, or trouble, upon those on earth. As you will see, we are now living in that time of woe. But it will be relatively brief—only "a short
* For information showing that Michael is another name for Jesus Christ, see the Appendix, pages 218-19.
4, 5. (a) What took place in heaven soon after Jesus was enthroned as King? (b) According to Revelation 12:12, what was to be the result of the war in heaven?
period of time." Even Satan realizes that. The Bible refers to this period as "the last days." (2 Timothy 3:1) How glad we can be that God will soon do away with the Devil's influence over the earth! Let us consider some of the things foretold in the Bible that are happening right now[lxv] [lxvi]. These prove that we are living in the last days and that God's Kingdom will soon bring everlasting blessings to those who love Jehovah. First, let us examine four features of the sign that Jesus said would mark the time in which we live.
OF THE LAST DAYS
6 "Nation will rise against nation
and kingdom against kingdom." (Mat‑
thew 24:7) Millions of people have
been killed in wars during the past
century. One British historian wrote:
"The 20th century was the most
murderous in recorded history . . .
It was a century of almost unbroken
war[lxvii] [lxviii], with few and brief periods
without organised armed con‑
flict somewhere." A report from the
Worldwatch Institute states: "Three
times as many people fell victim to
war in [the 20th] century as in all
the wars from the first century AD to 1899." More than 100 million people have died as a result of wars since 1914. Even if we know the sorrow of losing one loved one in warfare, we can only imagine such misery and pain multiplied millions of times over.
7 "There will be food shortages." (Matthew 24:7) Researchers say that food production has increased greatly during the past 30 years. Nevertheless, food shortages continue because many people do not have enough money to buy food or land on which to raise crops. In developing countries, well over a billion people have to live on an income of a dollar or less a day. The majority of these suffer from chronic hunger. The World Health Organization estimates that malnutrition plays a major role in the deaths of more than five million children each year.
8 "There will be great earthquakes." (Luke 21:11) According to the U.S. Geological Survey, since 1990 alone an average of 17 earthquakes per year have been powerful enough to damage buildings and crack the ground.
8, 9. What shows that Jesus' prophecies about earthquakes and pestilences have come true?
And on an average, earthquakes strong enough to cause total destruction of buildings have occurred yearly. Another source states: "Earthquakes have claimed hundreds of thousands of lives in the last 100 years and improvements in technology have only slightly reduced the death toll."
9 "There will be . . . pestilences." (Luke 21:11) Despite medical advances, old and new diseases plague mankind. One report says that 20 well-known diseases—including tuberculosis, malaria, and cholera—have become more common in recent decades, and some types of disease are increasingly difficult to cure by means of drugs. In fact, at least 30 new diseases have appeared. Some of them have no known cure and are fatal.
PEOPLE OF THE LAST DAYS
10 Aside from identifying certain world developments, the Bible foretold that the last days would be marked by a change in human society. The apostle Paul described what people in general would be like. At 2 Timothy 3:1-5, we read: "In the last days critical times hard to deal with
10. What traits foretold at 2 Timothy 3:1-5 do you see in people today?
.,,,,,• .„, ”
will be here." In part, Paul said that people would be
n lovers of themselves
n lovers ofmoney
n disobedient to parents
n having no natural affection
n without self-control
n lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God
having a form of godly devotion
but proving false to its power
11 Have people become like that in your community? No doubt they have. There are people everywhere who have bad traits. This shows that God will soon act, for the Bible says: "When the wicked ones sprout as the vegetation and all the practicers of what is hurtful blossom forth, it is that they may be annihilated forever."—Psalm 92:7.
12 The last days are indeed filled with woe, just as the Bible foretold.
11. How does Psalm 92:7 describe what will happen to the wicked ones?
12, 13. How has "true knowledge" become abundant in this "time of the end"?
92 What Does the Bible Really Teach?
In this troubled world, however, there are positive developments among the worshipers of Jehovah.
13 "The true knowledge will become abundant," the Bible book of Daniel foretold. When would that happen? During "the time of the end." (Daniel 12:4) Especially since 1914, Jehovah has helped those who truly desire to serve him to grow in understanding of the Bible. They have grown in appreciation of precious truths about God's name and purpose, the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the condition of the dead, and the resurrection. Moreover, worshipers of Jehovah have learned how to live their lives in a way that benefits them and brings praise to God. They have also gained a clearer understanding[lxix] [lxx] of the role of God's Kingdom and how it will set matters straight on the earth. What do they do with this knowledge? That question brings us to yet another prophecy that is being fulfilled in these last days.
14 "This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth," said Jesus Christ in his prophecy about "the conclusion of the system of things." (Matthew 24:3, 14) Throughout the earth, the good news of the Kingdom—what the Kingdom is, what it will do, and how we can receive its blessings—is being preached in over 230 lands and in more than 400 languages. Millions of Jehovah's Witnesses zealously preach the Kingdom good news. They come from "all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues." (Revelation 7:9) The Witnesses conduct free home Bible studies with millions of people who want to know what the Bible really teaches. What an impressive fulfillment of prophecy, especially since Jesus foretold that true Christians would be "objects of hatred by all people" !—Luke 21:17.
WHAT WILL YOU DO?
15 Since so many Bible prophecies are being fulfilled today, do you not agree that we are living in the last days? After the good news is preached to Jehovah's satisfaction, "the end" is certain to come. (Matthew 24:14) "The end" means the time when God will get rid of wickedness on earth. To destroy all who willfully oppose Him, Jehovah will use Jesus and powerful angels. (2 Thessalonians 1: 6-9) Satan and his demons will no longer mislead the nations. After that, God's Kingdom will shower blessings upon all who submit to its righteous rulership.—Revelation 20:1-3; 21:3-5.
16 Since the end of Satan's system is near, we need to ask ourselves, 'What should I be doing?' It is wise to continue to learn more about Jehovah and his requirements for us. (John 17:3) Be a serious student of the Bible[lxxi] [lxxii]. Make it your habit to associate regularly with others who seek to do Jehovah's will. (Hebrews 10:24, 25) Take in the abundant knowledge that Jehovah God has made available to people worldwide, and make necessary changes in your life so that you may enjoy God's favor.—James 4:8.
17 Jesus foretold that most people would ignore the evidence that we are living in the last days. The destruction of the wicked will come suddenly and unexpectedly. Like a thief in the night, it will catch most people by surprise. (1 Thessalonians 5:2) Jesus warned: "As the days of Noah were, so the presence of the Son of man will be. For as they were in those days before the flood, eating
15. (a) Do you believe that we are living in the last days, and why? (b) What will "the end" mean for those who oppose Jehovah and for those who submit to the rulership of God's Kingdom?
16. What would it be wise for you to do?
17. Why will the destruction of the wicked catch most people by surprise?
and drinking, men marrying and women being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark; and they took no note until the flood came and swept them all away, so the presence of the Son of man will be." —Matthew 24:37-39.
18 Hence, Jesus told his listeners: "Pay attention to yourselves that your hearts never become weighed down with overeating and heavy drinking and anxieties of life, and suddenly that day be instantly upon you as a snare. For it will come in upon all those dwelling upon the face of all the earth. Keep awake, then, all the time making supplication that you may succeed in escaping all these things that are destined to occur, and in standing [with approval] before the Son of man." (Luke 21:34-36) It is wise to take Jesus' words to heart. Why? Because those having the approval of Jehovah God and "the Son of man," Jesus Christ, have the prospect of surviving[lxxiii] [lxxiv] the end of Satan's system of things and of living forever in the marvelous new world[lxxv] [lxxvi] that is so close at hand! John 3:16; 2 Peter 3:13.
18. What warning by Jesus should we take to heart?
WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES
n The last days are marked by wars, food shortages, earthquakes, and pestilences. —Matthew 24:7; Luke 21:11.
n In the last days, many love themselves, money, and pleasures but do not love God. —2 Timothy 3:1-5.
n During these last days, the good news of the Kingdom is being preached worldwide. —Matthew 24:14.
Do angels help people?
How have wicked spirits influenced humans?
Do we need to fear wicked spirits?
GETTING to know a person usually involves learning something about his family. Similarly, getting to know Jehovah God includes becoming better acquainted with his angelic family. The Bible calls the angels "sons of God." (Job 38:7) So, what is their place in God's purpose? Have they played a role in human history? Do angels affect your life? If so, how?
2 The Bible refers to angels hundreds of times. Let us consider a few of these references to learn more about angels. Where did angels come from? Colossians 1:16 says: "By means of him [Jesus Christ] all other things were created in the heavens and upon the earth." Hence, all the spirit creatures called angels were individually created by Jehovah God through his firstborn Son. How many angels are there? The Bible indicates that hundreds of millions of angels were created, and all of them are powerful.—Psalm 103:20.*
* Regarding righteous angels, Revelation 5:11 says: "The number of them was myriads of myriads," or "ten thousand times tens of thousands." (Footnote) So the Bible does indicate that hundreds of millions of angels were created.
1. Why should we want to learn about angels?
2. Where did angels come from, and how many are there?
Spirit Creatures—How They Affect Us 97
3 God's Word, the Bible, tells us that when the earth was founded, "all the sons of God began shouting in applause." (Job 38:4-7) Angels thus existed long before humans were created, even before the creation of the earth. This Bible passage also shows that angels have feelings, for it says that they "joyfully cried out together." Note that "all the sons of God" rejoiced together. At that time, all the angels were part of a united family serving Jehovah God.
ANGELIC SUPPORT AND PROTECTION
4 Ever since they witnessed the creation of the first humans, faithful spirit creatures have shown keen interest in the growing human family and in the outworking of God's purpose. (Proverbs 8:30, 31; 1 Peter 1:11, 12) With the passing of time, however, the angels observed that most of the human family turned away from serving their loving Creator. No doubt this saddened the faithful angels. On the other hand, whenever even one human returns to Jehovah, "joy arises among the angels." (Luke 15:10) Since angels have such deep concern for the welfare of those who serve God, it is no wonder that Jehovah has repeatedly used angels to strengthen and protect his faithful servants on earth. (Hebrews 1:7, 14) Consider some examples.
5 Two angels helped the righteous man Lot and his daughters to survive the destruction of the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by leading them out of that area. (Genesis 19:15, 16) Centuries later, the prophet Daniel was thrown into a lions' pit, but he escaped harm and
3. What does Job 38:4-7 tell us about angels?
4. How does the Bible show that faithful angels are interested in human activities?
5. What examples of angelic support do we find in the Bible?
98 What Does the Bible Really Teach?
said: "My own God sent his angel and shut the mouth of the lions." (Daniel 6:22) In the first century C.E., an angel freed the apostle Peter from prison. (Acts 12:6-11) Moreover, angels supported Jesus at the start of his earthly ministry. (Mark 1:13) And shortly before Jesus' death, an angel appeared to Jesus and "strengthened him." (Luke 22:43) What a comfort that must have been for Jesus at those very important times in his life!
6 Today, angels no longer appear visibly to God's people on earth. Although invisible to human eyes, God's powerful angels still protect his people, especially from anything spiritually harmful. The Bible says: "The angel of Jehovah is camping all around those fearing him, and he rescues them." (Psalm 34:7) Why should those words be of great comfort to us? Because there are dangerous wicked spirit creatures who want to destroy us! Who are they? Where do they come from? How are they trying to harm us? To find out, let us briefly consider something that happened at the start of human history.
7 As we learned in Chapter 3 of this book, one of the angels developed a desire to rule over others and thus turned against God. Later this angel became known as Satan the Devil. (Revelation 12:9) During the 16 centuries after he deceived Eve, Satan succeeded in turning away from God nearly all humans except a few faithful ones, such as Abel, Enoch, and Noah. Hebrews 11:4, 5, 7.
8 In Noah's day, other angels rebelled against Jehovah.
6. (a) How do angels protect God's people today? (b) What questions will we now consider?
7. To what extent did Satan succeed in turning people away from God?
8. (a) How did some angels become demons? (b) To survive the Flood of Noah's day, what did the demons have to do?
Spirit Creatures—How They Affect Us 99
They left their place in God's heavenly family, came down to the earth, and took on fleshly bodies. Why? We read at Genesis 6:2: "The sons of the true God began to notice the daughters of men, that they were good- looking; and they went taking wives for themselves, tamely, all whom they chose." But Jehovah God did not allow the actions of these angels and the resulting cori uption of mankind to go on. He brought upon the earth a global flood that swept away all wicked humans and preserved only his faithful servants. (Genesis 7:17, 23) Thus, the rebellious angels, or demons, were forced to abandon their fleshly bodies and return to heaven as
"My own God sent his angel and
shut the mouth of the lions."
100 What Does the Bible Really Teach?
spirit creatures. They put themselves on the side of the Devil, who became "the ruler of the demons."—Matthew 9:34.
9 When the disobedient angels returned to heaven, they were treated as outcasts, like their ruler, Satan. (2 Peter 2:4) Although they are now unable to take on human bodies, they still exercise a very bad influence over humans. In fact, with the help of these demons, Satan "is misleading the entire inhabited earth." (Revelation 12:9; 1 John 5:19) How? Mainly, the demons use methods designed to mislead people. (2 Corinthians 2:11) Let us consider some of these methods.
HOW DEMONS MISLEAD
10 To mislead people, the demons use spiritism. The practice of spiritism is involvement with the demons, both in a direct way and through a human medium. The Bible condemns spiritism and warns us to keep free from everything connected with it. (Galatians 5:19-21) Spiritism does for the demons what bait does for fishermen. A fisherman uses a variety of baits to catch various kinds of fish. Similarly, wicked spirits use different forms of spiritism to bring all sorts of people under their influence.
11 One type of bait used by the demons is divination. What is divination? It is an attempt to find out about the future or about something unknown. Some forms of divination are astrology, the use of tarot cards, crystal gazing, palmistry, and the search for mysterious omens, or signs, in dreams. Although many people think that practicing divination is harmless, the Bible shows that
9. (a) What happened to the demons when they returned to heaven? (b) We will consider what with regard to the demons?
10. What is spiritism?
11. What is divination, and why should we avoid it?
The demons use various means to deceive people
fortune-tellers and wicked spirits work together. For instance, Acts 16:16-18 mentions "a demon of divination" that enabled a girl to practice "the art of prediction." But she lost this ability when the demon was cast out of her.
12 Another way that the demons mislead people is by encouraging them to inquire of the dead. People grieving over the death of a loved one are often deceived by wrong ideas about those who have died. A spirit medium may give special information or may speak in a voice that seems to be that of a dead person. As a result, many people become convinced that the dead are really alive and that contacting them will help the living to endure their grief. But any such "comfort" is really false as well as dangerous. Why? Because the demons can imitate the voice of a dead person and give a spirit medium information about the one who died. (1 Samuel 28:3-19) Moreover, as
12. Why is it dangerous to try to communicate with the dead?
we learned in Chapter 6, the dead have ceased to exist. (Psalm 115:17) So "anyone who inquires of the dead" has been misled by wicked spirits and is acting contrary to the will of God. (Deuteronomy 18:10, 11; Isaiah 8:19) Therefore, be careful to reject this dangerous bait used by the demons.
13 Wicked spirits not only mislead people but also frighten them. Today, Satan and his demons know that they have only "a short period of time" left before they are put out of action, and they are now more vicious than ever. (Revelation 12:12, 17) Even so, thousands of people who once lived in daily dread of such wicked spirits have been able to break free. How did they do this? What can a person do even if he is already involved in spiritism?
HOW TO RESIST WICKED SPIRITS
14 The Bible tells us both how to resist wicked spirits and how to break free from them. Consider the example of the first-century Christians in the city of Ephesus. Some of them practiced spiritism before becoming Christians. When they decided to break free from spiritism, what did they do? The Bible says: "Quite a number of those who practiced magical arts brought their books together and burned them up before everybody." (Acts 19:19) By destroying their books on magic, those new Christians set an example for those who wish to resist wicked spirits today. People who want to serve Jehovah need to get rid of everything related to spiritism. That includes books, magazines, movies, posters, and music recordings that encourage the practice of spiritism and make it seem appealing and exciting. Included, too, are
13. What have many who once feared the demons been able to do?
14. Like the first-century Christians in Ephesus, how can we break free from wicked spirits?
104 What Does the Bible Really Teach?
amulets or other items worn for protection against evil. —1 Corinthians 10:21.
15 Some years after the Christians in Ephesus destroyed their books on magic, the apostle Paul wrote them: "We have a wrestling . . . against the wicked spirit forces." (Ephesians 6:12) The demons had not given up. They were still trying to gain an advantage. So, what else did those Christians need to do? "Above all things," said Paul, "take up the large shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the wicked one's [Satan's] burning missiles." (Ephesians 6:16) The stronger our shield of faith, the greater our resistance to wicked spirit forces will be.—Matthew 17:20.
16 How, then, can we strengthen our faith? By studying the Bible. The firmness of a wall depends very much on the strength of its foundation. In the same way, the firmness of our faith depends greatly on the strength of its base, which is accurate knowledge of God's Word, the Bible. If we read and study the Bible daily, our faith will become strong. Like a strong wall, such faith will shield us from the influence of wicked spirits.-1 John 5:5.
17 What other step did those Christians in Ephesus need to take? They needed further protection because they were living in a city filled with demonism. So Paul told them: "With every form of prayer and supplication . . . carry on prayer on every occasion in spirit." (Ephesians 6:18) Since we too live in a world full of demonism, earnestly praying to Jehovah for his protection is essential in resisting wicked spirits. Of course, we need to use Jehovah's name in our prayers. (Proverbs 18:10) Hence,
15. To resist wicked spirit forces, what do we need to do?
16. How can we strengthen our faith?
17. What step is necessary in order to resist wicked spirits?
Spirit Creatures—How They Affect Us 105
we should keep on praying to God to "deliver us from the wicked one," Satan the Devil. (Matthew 6:13) Jehovah will answer such earnest prayers.—Psalm 145:19.
18 Wicked spirits are dangerous, but we need not live in fear of them if we oppose the Devil and draw close to God by doing His will. (James 4:7, 8) The power of wicked spirits is limited. They were punished in Noah's day, and they face their final judgment in the future. (Jude 6) Remember, too, that we have the protection of Jehovah's powerful angels. (2 Kings 6:15-17) Those angels are deeply interested in seeing us succeed in resisting wicked spirits. The righteous angels are cheering us on, so to speak. Let us therefore stay close to Jehovah and his family of faithful spirit creatures. May we also avoid every kind of spiritism and always apply the counsel of God's Word. (1 Peter 5:6, 7; 2 Peter 2:9) Then we can be sure of victory in our fight against wicked spirit creatures.
19 But why has God tolerated evil spirits and the wickedness that has caused people so much suffering? That question will be answered in the next chapter.
18, 19. (a) Why can we be sure of victory in our fight against wicked spirit creatures? (b) What question will be answered in the next chapter?
WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES
n Faithful angels come to the aid of those
n Satan and his demons are misleading people and turning them away from God.
If you do God's will and oppose the Devil,
Has God caused the suffering in the
What issue was raised in the garden of Eden?
will God undo the effects of
AFTER a terrible battle in one war-torn land, the thousands of civilian women and children who had been killed were buried in a mass grave surrounded by markers. Each marker bore this inscription: "Why?" Sometimes that is the most painful question of all. People ask it sadly when war, disaster, disease, or crime takes their innocent loved ones, destroys their home, or brings them untold suffering in other ways. They want to know why such tragedies befall them.
2 Why does God allow suffering? If Jehovah God is all- powerful, loving, wise, and just, why is the world so full of hatred and injustice? Have you ever wondered about these things yourself?
3 Is it wrong to ask why God allows suffering? Some worry that asking such a question means that they do not have enough faith or that they are showing disrespect for God. When reading the Bible, however, you will find that faithful, God-fearing people had similar questions. For
1, 2. What kind of suffering do people face today, leading many to ask what questions?
3, 4. (a) What shows that it is not wrong to ask why God allows suffering? (b) How does Jehovah feel about wickedness and suffering?
Jehovah will end all suffering
example, the prophet Habakkuk asked Jehovah: "Why is it that you make me see what is hurtful, and you keep looking upon mere trouble? And why are despoiling and violence in front of me, and why does quarreling occur, and why is strife carried?"—Habakkuk 1:3.
Did Jehovah scold the faithful prophet Habakkuk for asking such questions? No. Instead, God included Habakkuk's sincere words in the inspired Bible record. God also helped him to get a clearer understanding of matters and to gain greater faith. Jehovah wants to do the same for you. Remember, the Bible teaches that "he cares for you." (1 Peter 5:7) God hates wickedness and the suffering it causes far more than any human does. (Isaiah 55: 8, 9) Why, then, is there so much suffering in the world[lxxix] [lxxx] ?
WHY SO MUCH SUFFERING?
5 People of various religions have gone to their religious leaders and teachers to ask why there is so much suffering. Often, the response is that suffering is God's will and that he long ago determined everything that
5. What reasons are sometimes offered to explain human suffering, but what does the Bible teach?
would ever happen, including tragic events. Many are told that God's ways are mysterious or that he brings death upon people—even children—so that he can have them in heaven with him. As you have learned, though, Jehovah God never causes what is bad. The Bible says: "Far be it from the true God to act wickedly, and the Almighty to act unjustly!"—Job 34:10.
6 Do you know why people make the mistake of blaming God for all the suffering in the world? In many cases, they blame Almighty God because they think that he is the real ruler of this world. They do not know a simple but important truth that the Bible teaches. You learned that truth in Chapter 3 of this book. The real ruler of this world is Satan the Devil[lxxxi] [lxxxii].
The Bible clearly states: "The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one." (1 John 5:19) When you think about it, does that not make sense? This world reflects the personality of the invisible spirit creature who is "misleading the entire inhabited earth." (Revelation 12:9) Satan is hateful, deceptive, and cruel. So the world, under his influence, is full of hatred, deceit, and cruelty. That is one reason why there is so much suffering.
8 A second reason why there is so much suffering is that, as discussed in Chapter 3, mankind has been imperfect and sinful ever since the rebellion in the garden of Eden. Sinful humans tend to struggle for dominance, and this results in wars, oppression, and suffering. (Ecclesiastes 4:1; 8:9) A third reason for suffering is "time and
6. Why do many people make the mistake of blaming God for the suffering in the world?
7, 8. (a) How does the world reflect the personality of its ruler? (b) How have human imperfection and "time and unforeseen occurrence" contributed to suffering?
Why Does God Allow Suffering? 109
unforeseen occurrence." (Ecclesiastes 9:11) In a world without Jehovah as a protective Ruler, people may suffer because they happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
9 It is comforting for us to know that God does not cause suffering. He is not responsible for the wars, the crimes, the oppression, or even the natural disasters that cause people to suffer. Still, we need to know, Why does Jehovah allow all this suffering? If he is the Almighty, he has the power to stop it. Why, then, does he hold back? The loving God that we have come to know must have a good reason.-1 John 4:8.
A VITAL ISSUE IS RAISED
1° To find out why God allows suffering, we need to think back to the time when suffering began. When Satan led Adam and Eve into disobeying Jehovah, an important question was raised. Satan did not call into question Jehovah's power. Even Satan knows that there is no limit to Jehovah's power. Rather, Satan questioned Jehovah's right to rule. By calling God a liar who withholds good from his subjects, Satan charged that Jehovah is a bad ruler. (Genesis 3:2-5) Satan implied that mankind would be better off without God's rulership. This was an attack on Jehovah's sovereignty, his right to rule.
11 Adam and Eve rebelled against Jehovah. In effect, they said: "We do not need Jehovah as our Ruler. We can decide for ourselves what is right and what is wrong." How could Jehovah settle that issue? How could he teach
9. Why can we be sure that Jehovah has a good reason for allowing suffering to continue?
10. What did Satan call into question, and how?
11. Why did Jehovah not just destroy the rebels in Eden?
Is the student more qualified than the teacher?
all intelligent creatures that the rebels were wrong and that his way truly is best? Someone might say that God should simply have destroyed the rebels and made a fresh start. But Jehovah had stated his purpose to fill the earth with the offspring of Adam and Eve, and he wanted them to live in an earthly paradise. (Genesis 1:28) Jehovah always fulfills his purposes. (Isaiah 55:10, 11) Besides that, getting rid of the rebels in Eden would not have answered the question that had been raised regarding Jehovah's right to rule.
12 Let us consider an illustration. Imagine that a teacher is telling his students how to solve a difficult problem. A clever but rebellious student claims that the teacher's way of solving the problem is wrong. Implying that the teacher is not capable, this rebel insists that he knows a much better way to solve the problem. Some students think that he is right, and they also become rebellious.
12, 13. Illustrate why Jehovah has allowed Satan to become the ruler of this world and why God has permitted humans to govern themselves.
Why Does God Allow Suffering? 111
What should the teacher do? If he throws the rebels out of the class, what will be the effect on the other students? Will they not believe that their fellow student and those who joined him are right? All the other students in the class might lose respect for the teacher, thinking that he is afraid of being proved wrong. But suppose that the teacher allows the rebel to show the class how he would solve the problem.
13 Jehovah has done something similar to what the teacher does. Remember that the rebels in Eden were not the only ones involved. Millions of angels were watching. (Job 38:7; Daniel 7:10) How Jehovah handled the rebellion would greatly affect all those angels and eventually all intelligent creation. So, what has Jehovah done? He has allowed Satan to show how he would rule mankind. God has also allowed humans to govern themselves under Satan's guidance.
14 The teacher in our illustration knows that the rebel and the students on his side are wrong. But he also knows that allowing them the opportunity to try to prove their point will benefit the whole class. When the rebels fail, all honest students will see that the teacher is the only one qualified to lead the class. They will understand why the teacher thereafter removes any rebels from the class. Similarly, Jehovah knows that all honesthearted humans and angels will benefit from seeing that Satan and his fellow rebels have failed and that humans cannot govern themselves. Like Jeremiah of old, they will learn this vital truth: "I well know, 0 Jehovah, that to earthling man his way does not belong. It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step."—Jeremiah 10:23.
WHY SO LONG?
15 Why, though, has Jehovah allowed suffering to go on for so long? And why does he not prevent bad things from happening? Well, consider two things that the teacher in our illustration would not do. First, he would not stop the rebel student from presenting his case. Second, the teacher would not help the rebel to make his case. Similarly, consider two things that Jehovah has determined not to do. First, he has not stopped Satan and those who side with him from trying to prove that they are right. Allowing time to pass has thus been necessary. In the thousands of years of human history, mankind has been able to try every form of self-rule, or human government. Mankind has made some advances in science and other fields, but injustice, poverty, crime, and war have grown ever worse. Human rule has now been shown to be a failure.
16 Second, Jehovah has not helped Satan to rule this world. If God were to prevent horrible crimes, for instance, would he not, in effect, be supporting the case of the rebels? Would God not be making people think that perhaps humans can govern themselves without disastrous results? If Jehovah were to act in that way, he would become party to a lie. However, "it is impossible for God to lie."—Hebrews 6:18.
17 What, though, about all the harm that has been done during the long rebellion against God? We do well to remember that Jehovah is almighty. Therefore, he can and will undo the effects of mankind's suffering. As we
15, 16. (a) Why has Jehovah allowed suffering to continue for so long? (b) Why has Jehovah not prevented such things as horrible crimes?
17, 18. What will Jehovah do about all the harm that has resulted from the rule of humans and the influence of Satan?
Why Does God Allow Suffering? 113
have already learned, the ruining of our planet will be undone by the turning of the earth into Paradise. The effects of sin will be removed through faith in Jesus' ransom sacrifice, and the effects of death will be reversed by means of the resurrection. God will thus use Jesus "to break up the works of the Devil." (1 John 3:8) Jehovah will bring all of this about at just the right time. We can be glad that he has not acted sooner, for his patience has given us the opportunity to learn the truth and to serve him. (2 Peter 3:9, 10) Meanwhile, God has been actively seeking sincere worshipers and helping them to endure any suffering that may come upon them in this troubled world.—John 4:23; 1 Corinthians 10:13.
18 Some might wonder, Could all this suffering have been prevented if God had created Adam and Eve in such a way that they could not rebel? To answer that question, you need to remember a precious gift that Jehovah has given you.
HOW WILL YOU USE THE GIFT FROM GOD?
19 As was noted in Chapter 5, humans were created with free will. Do you realize what a precious gift that is? God has made countless animals, and these are driven largely by instinct. (Proverbs 30:24) Man has made some robots that can be programmed to follow every command. Would we be happy if God had made us like that? No, we are glad
19. What precious gift has Jehovah given us, and why should we value it?
God will help you to endure suffering