[from ws2/17 p3 April 3 – April 9]
“I have spoken, and I will bring it about. I have purposed it, and I will also carry it out” Isaiah 46:11
The purpose of this article is to lay the groundwork for the article next week on the Ransom. It covers what purpose Jehovah had for the earth and humankind. What went wrong and what Jehovah then put in place so his purpose would not be thwarted. In doing so there are key bible truths highlighted this week and it is good to mentally note them, both for our personal application but also so we are not misled by the ‘corrected view’ in next week’s study.
Our first key points are in paragraph 1 “The earth was to be an ideal home for men and women created in God’s image. They would be his children, and Jehovah would be their Father.”
Did you notice? The first key point is “The earth was to be an ideal home.”
The scriptures cited such as Genesis 1:26, Genesis 2:19, Psalm 37:29, Psalm 115:16, all back up this point. Tellingly Psalm 115:16 makes the point that “As for the heavens, they belong to Jehovah, but the earth he has given to the sons of men.” So going forward to next week, we need to bear in mind the following questions to see if they are addressed scripturally. Did Jehovah change the destination for any of humankind? (Isaiah 46:10,11, 55:11) If so, where did his Son Jesus make this clearly known? Or did the Jews in the 1st century when listening to Jesus, understand him to be talking about everlasting life on earth?
Our second key point is “They would be his children, and Jehovah would be their Father.”
Luke 3:38 lists Adam as ‘son of God’. He was a perfect human ‘son of God’ just as Jesus was a spirit ‘son of God’. Genesis 2 and 3 shows how God had a personal relationship with Adam, with Adam hearing his voice in ‘the breezy part of the day’. It was by sinning that Adam and Eve rejected their father. Not being willing to obey the few rules he had set, Jehovah had no option but to remove them from the paradise home he had made for them and their prospective children.
Jesus stated in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:9 that “Happy are the peaceable since they will be called ‘sons of God’. Paul confirmed this in Galatians 3:26-28 when he wrote, “You are all, in fact, sons of God through your faith in Christ Jesus.” He further went on to say, “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor freeman”. This is reminiscent of Jesus statement to the Jews in John 10:16 “And I have other sheep, which are not of this fold, those also I must bring, and they will listen to my voice, and they will become one flock, one shepherd.” However, until the fulfillment of Daniel 9:27 when half a week after the Messiah was cut-off, (3.5 years later after Jesus death), this opportunity would not be available to non-Jews.
As we know the Bible records in Acts 10 how Jesus used Peter to fulfill this prophecy. This fulfillment was by the conversion of Cornelius, a Gentile or ‘Greek’, the Holy Spirit making it clear that this had God’s blessing. Scriptures such as Acts 20:28, 1 Peter 5:2-4, show that the early Christian congregation was viewed as the flock of God. Certainly, the Greek or Gentile Christians had truly become one flock with the Jewish Christians, following the direction of Jesus and Jehovah. Acts 10:28,29 records Peter saying “You well know how unlawful it is for a Jew to join himself to or approach a man of another race; and yet God has shown me I should call no man defiled or unclean.” Initially some Jews were unhappy but when Peter pointed out that the Holy Spirit that had come upon them, had now been given to the Gentiles even before baptism, “they acquiesced and they glorified God, saying “Well then God has granted repentance for the purpose of life to people of the nations also.”” (Acts 11:1-18)
Question for meditation. Was there such an equivalent display of Holy Spirit in 1935 when the supposed two groups of anointed and other sheep were ‘revealed’?
Having clearly set out and proved that perfect humans would be God’s children, did you spot the subtle change of emphasis in paragraph 13 where it says: “God made arrangements to enable humans to restore their friendship with him”. Friendship is a very different relationship to father and children. With Father and children there is mutual love, but also respect from the children, whereas friendship is usually more based on mutual likes and dislikes and fellow equals doing things together.
Paragraph 14 highlights John 3:16. We have surely read this scripture so many times, but how many times do we read the context. The previous two verses make it clear we have to look to Jesus for salvation. Without having faith in Jesus we will miss out on everlasting life. Verse 15 says: ”that everyone believing in him may have everlasting life.” The Greek word translated ‘believing’ is ‘pisteuon’ which is derived from pistis (faith), so it means ‘I believe with confidence’, ‘I have faith in’, ‘I am persuaded’. Verse 16 also states that “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.”
Therefore, if you were a 1st Century Jew or Jewish disciple, how would you have understood this statement of Jesus? The audience only knew of everlasting life and resurrection back to the earth, even as Martha said to Jesus about Lazarus, “I know he will rise at the last day”. They based their understanding on such scriptures as Psalm 37, and Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Jesus highlighted everyone (one flock) and everlasting life.
The next paragraph cites John 1:14, where John wrote: “So the Word became flesh and resided (Greek Interlinear ‘tented’) among us”. This reminds us of Revelation 21:3 where the voice out of heaven from the throne said, “Look! The tent of God is with mankind and he will reside (tent) with them, and they will be his people and God himself with be with them”. This would not be possible unless those in the new earth had already become his sons, even as Revelation 21:7 says, “Anyone conquering will inherit these things, and I shall be his God and he will be my son.” It does not say ‘friend’, rather it says ‘my son’. Romans 5:17-19 also cited in this paragraph completes the picture when Paul writes that “through the obedience of one person [Jesus Christ] many will be made righteous.” And verse 18 talks of “through one act of justification, the result to men of all sorts is their being declared righteous for life”. Either we all come under this one act of justification [the ransom sacrifice] and can be declared righteous in line for life or else we do not have any chance at all. There are not two destinations or two classes or two rewards spoken of here.
Then as Romans 8:21 says, (cited paragraph 17) “creation will be set free from enslavement [bondage] to corruption [decay] into the freedom of the glory of the children of God”. Yes, indeed freed from certain death because of sin and freedom to live forever as children of God.
Summing up the Bibles’ message nicely John 6:40 (paragraph 18) makes it clear Jehovah’s view on this matter. “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who recognizes the Son and exercises faith in him, should have everlasting life, and I will resurrect him on the last [Greek – esxatos, properly final (furthest, extreme-end] day.”
The scriptures therefore teach a wonderful hope for all, both Jew and Non-Jew, which is laid clearly before us. Exercise faith in Jesus, and he will give all the promised everlasting life, after resurrecting them on the very last day of this wicked system of things as perfect children of God. No separate hopes, no separate destinations, no growing to perfection. God’s original purpose of the earth inhabited by righteous human children of God will be a reality. He will tent with them, what closer relationship could creation get than as children of him tenting with their heavenly Father thanks to the ransom of his dear Son.
Let us share the true reality of the ransom and what it means to all that we can, sticking to clear Bible truths, rather than doctrines of men.