Man Fails—But God Has a Plan

“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish [fill] the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.” —Genesis 1:26-31

MAN was and is the highest of God’s earthly creatures; and indeed was made in the image of his Creator. He had the ability to reason, and to receive instructions from his Creator, and to carry them out. It will be noted that God gave no instruction to the lower orders of his earthly creatures, but he did to man because his human creatures were capable of understanding those instructions and of acting upon them. This is one of the evidences of his having been created in the image of God.

God did not give his human creatures a great many instructions, but those he gave were comprehensive and far-reaching. He was to reproduce his species until the earth was filled with his progeny. He was to subdue the earth, and to have dominion over it, and over all the lower forms of living creatures that moved upon the earth.

Obedience Tested

And in all this the Creator expected his human creatures to be loyal to him. He planted a garden for them “eastward in Eden,” and in this garden every provision was made for sustaining their life—including the “tree of life.” There was also the tree of the knowledge of good and evil of which man was forbidden to eat. The penalty for partaking of this tree was to be death—“In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”—Gen. 2:17

The sad story of disobedience is well-known to all Bible believers, and to millions who are not. Our first parents did disobey God’s command, and the sentence of death fell upon them. And the unique fashion in which this penalty is stated is very revealing. Unto the woman the Lord said, “I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.”—Gen. 3:16

To Adam God said, “Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken; for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”—Gen. 3:17-19

Birth Pangs Continue

These words of condemnation fell upon the ears of our first parents more than six thousand years ago, and the realities which they describe continue to blight the full happiness of the human race. While man, with his inventive genius, has devised machinery which takes away some of the toil from his daily tasks—in limited areas of the earth, that is—yet there has been no amelioration of the pains associated with childbirth, apart from pain-killing drugs or modern anesthesia. The “travail of birth” is still the unhappy lot of most women who bear a child, which is a living testimony to the truthfulness of the Word of God.

It is well to note in passing that neither the pains associated with childbirth, nor the “sweat of face” required to eke out a living from the unfavorable elements of earth, are the real sentence of death, but merely given in connection with that sentence. The sentence of death is couched in that well-known expression, “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return”; and how true it is that now, more than six thousand years after this sentence fell upon Adam, and by heredity upon the entire human race, death is still reigning, and dying humans are still returning to the dust!

Man has not been able to escape this sentence; nor has he been successful in ruling over the earth, and subduing it. While the Lord has allowed man to pursue his own ways almost entirely without interference, yet there have been times when he intervened to halt the downward course of his fallen dying creatures. Once he did this by destroying all but eight persons by a flood of waters.

God also interfered with man’s plans in connection with the attempted building of the tower of Babel. (Gen. 11:1-9) The motive for building this tower is clearly stated in the account: “Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.” (vs. 4) But God did not want the people held together, and to make a great name for themselves, so he confounded the language of all the earth and did “scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.”—vs. 9

This might well have been an attempt to establish a centralized government that would hold all people in control. Man was given dominion over the earth, and over the lower animals, but not over one another. Although human wisdom throughout the ages has made many attempts to establish world governments, or empires, none of these attempts have fully succeeded, and to the extent that they have, the people have been oppressed.

Man Has Tried

Throughout the centuries of human experience the Lord has permitted man to try every conceivable form of government he could devise for the betterment of his condition, but none have worked out satisfactorily. God even gave the Jewish people an opportunity to gain life through obedience to his law, but in this they failed on account of their inherited imperfections.

It has been said that almost any form of government would work well if those in control were the right sort of people—capable, unselfish, kind, understanding, and just. But this is where the difficulty has been. There have been none to occupy the seats of authority in government who have possessed these traits to a sufficient degree to assure all the people under their control that justice would be meted out to them under all circumstances, and that they would be treated as though they were fellow humans with their rulers. Most of those who have been in positions of authority have been more anxious to rule than to bless.

There have been monarchies, and dictatorships. There have been republics. There have been church-state governments. In ancient Israel God established a theocracy, and even this failed—more miserably, perhaps, than many other forms of government by which segments of the human race have been ruled. Certainly it is safe to say that none of the rulers of earth have had the vision to exercise dominion over the earth and subdue it, rather than to dominate and subdue their fellow men.

Science and Invention

Coming down to the era of science and invention, that period in human experience characterized by the prophet, “increase of knowledge,” we find that the story of human failure continues. True, man has accomplished a great deal along some lines. The standard of living has been raised in a small portion of the earth. Through the use of improved hygienic methods of infant care and increased knowledge in medical skills in other fields, the average length of human life has been considerably increased.

In the field of communication great strides have been made, so that now millions can sit in their own homes and watch opposing armies slaughter each other thousands of miles away; and, of course, witness other important events. But due to human selfishness the radio and television have failed to contribute to the betterment of human minds, which might have been accomplished under different conditions. It is a sad commentary, but true, that culturally and spiritually, humanity has not been enriched by the modern-day systems of communication.

In the field of travel there are also marvelous achievements, but here again the dreadful truth is dawning upon the minds and hearts of the people that automobiles and airplanes are polluting the air to the point where, if something drastic is not done about it, the health, and even the life of the human race will be in danger. Already the automobile is contributing to the ill-health of millions, especially in the areas of the large cities.

And while on the subject of pollution we should mention what is now known to all, which is that not only is the air we breathe being polluted, but the land and water too—also as a result of the increasing knowledge of these last days in which we live. Within the last few months it has been discovered that even the oceans are being polluted, and it has been necessary to remove certain ocean fish from the market because of pollution from mercury which found its way into the oceans probably from the waste of factories.

Efforts are being made to do away with pollution of human environment, but the progress is slow, and many scientists are warning that it might very well be too late to prevent the impairing of the health of humanity for generations to come, and perhaps even the destruction of the human race. The slow progress that is being made is not keeping pace with the exploding population, and now many ecologists are of the opinion that the doubling of the population in thirty or forty years will more than offset the gains that are being made in cleaning up the environment. The logic is simple—the more people there are the more pollution there is bound to be.

Human Selfishness

Human selfishness stands in the way of solving the problems of pollution; and human selfishness throughout the ages has sabotaged all the efforts of the noble-minded to make the earth a better place in which to live, and to insure also that all the people could enjoy the bounties of earth as provided by the Creator. This fact becomes more and more apparent with increasing knowledge. For example, man can now travel to the moon, and he can also blow up the world with nuclear fission, but selfishness prevents him from making proper provision of food and shelter for millions of people who are much more in need of a meal, and a place to sleep, than to be told that the United States and Russia are in a position to blow each other off the face of the earth.

Billions are spent for armament and for war, while millions starve. And let us not think that the starving millions of earth all live in so-called backward countries. Millions of them are living (or dying) right here in the United States. Actually, throughout human experience it has never been any different. We call attention to it here simply to emphasize that science and invention have not changed the hearts of men, and with all the increase of knowledge, man is unable to solve his own problems, the main one (aside from his dying) being the problem of human selfishness.

Man was commanded to multiply and fill the earth; and while he has done this, because of disobedience to divine law his progeny is sick and dying, their minds and hearts twisted by selfishness; and the vast majority unbelievers in God who is their Creator. The Lord has permitted his human creatures to discover some of the secrets of his creation, such as electrical and atomic energy, but he is misusing these, and through their misuse there arises the possibility that the human race might be destroyed altogether.

Man was commanded to subdue the earth, and to make it a garden spot in which the human species, created in the image of God, could live in peace, love, and joy; but instead of this he has now succeeded in polluting the home provided for him. Surely, when we take the whole situation into consideration, we can easily see that God is permitting his human creatures to realize that apart from him and the spirit of love which motivates him, they cannot continue to live. Yes, before it is over all mouths will be stopped so far as claims of wisdom and greatness are concerned.

God’s Plan

God knew from the beginning that man would fail—that he would disobey divine law, come under condemnation to death, and through his own folly and selfishness would become extinct unless provision was made for his recovery, and the all-wise and loving Creator made a plan to save his human creatures from the result of their rebellion against him. That plan centered in the provision of a Redeemer, which was God’s own beloved Son.

It was God’s love that provided redemption through his Son, for he was under no obligation toward sinful man. But in his wisdom God knew that the experience with sin would be of lasting benefit to man, so he permitted him to fall into sin and death. But it was God’s love which sent his only begotten Son into the world, that “whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”—John 3:16

Father Adam was perfect and created in the image of God. And it was this perfect man who decided, willfully, to transgress his Creator’s command. This resulted in death, for “the wages of sin is death.” But, as Paul explains, “the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom. 6:23) Jesus came into the world as a perfect man, and when he gave up his perfect life as a voluntary sacrifice it was as a substitute for the life of father Adam. The Bible calls it a “ransom,” and Paul explains that the knowledge of this “ransom for all” will be made known to all in due time. (I Tim. 2:3-5) Paul also wrote that “as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”—I Cor. 15:21,22

The provision of the ransom by divine love opens the way for the release of the human race from death in God’s due time. The first to be released are the dedicated followers of Jesus. But this is merely upon the basis of faith. By faith they come out from under condemnation to death. This is called justification, and these yield up their justified humanity in sacrifice, following in the sacrificial steps of Jesus. They are “planted together in the likeness of his death.” (Rom. 6:5) They follow Jesus, the sacrificial Lamb, into death, and in the resurrection they are exalted to reign with him a thousand years for the uplifting and blessing of the remainder of mankind.—Rev. 14:1-4; 20:4,6

It will be during the kingdom reign of Christ and his chosen and faithful followers that the human race in general will be recovered from sin and death. To begin with, those who are living when the kingdom begins to function will be the first to be blessed. And in what a sorry plight the world will be by that time! We do not know how far in the future that may be, but the rapid fulfillment of prophecies today indicates that the kingdom is not far away. But one thing we know, that whatever length of time yet remains before this divine intervention in the affairs of men, the conditions of the world will continue to worsen.

Despite the efforts of men to prevent it, the pollution of our surroundings will become more deadly. The human heart, with the continuing dwindling of faith in God, will continue to harden; crime, war, rioting, and other evils will continue to plague the globe, and the hearts of the people will become more and more filled with fear. In addition to this, destruction by hydrogen bombs will remain a constant threat to the people of all nations. Jesus said that if these days of tribulation were not shortened no flesh would survive.—Matt. 24:21,22

But Jesus assured us that those days would be shortened, and this will be by the power of the exalted “Elect”—Jesus, and his glorified church, those who have proven worthy by faithfulness in laying down their lives as Jesus did, which was sacrificially. Divine power will make this intervention possible and a success. First it was divine power which raised Jesus from the dead, and it is divine power that raises all his faithful followers from the dead. These will be the invisible, spiritual rulers in that kingdom.

These will be represented on the earth by what the Scriptures refer to as “princes in all the earth.” (Ps. 45:16) These will be those faithful servants of God who laid down their lives prior to the first advent of Jesus—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets. Divine power will also raise these from the dead (Heb. 11:35,39,40), in what is described as a “better resurrection.” It will be “better” in the sense that they will be raised to perfection, already having proved their fidelity to righteousness, and thus will be qualified to represent the spiritual rulers of the new kingdom.

With the living generation started on their return road to full restoration of health and life, and oneness with God, the powers of the kingdom will begin to awaken those asleep in death, that they too might share in the blessings of that kingdom. The ultimate blessing of that kingdom will be the changing of the selfish heart of man to a loving heart of obedience to God and with this, of course, a desire to be a blessing to others instead of exploiting them. And how thoroughly this will solve the basic problem which is now so rapidly leading mankind into chaos and destruction.

This blessing is described in Jeremiah 31:33-34: “I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord; for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

Thus restored to the divine image, with love welling up in every heart and meeting a kindred response in every other heart, the earth will be filled with a perfect and happy human family enjoying the benefits of health and life forever. Mankind will then also have his dominion over the earth restored, and the earth will be subdued in keeping with God’s original design. And how wonderful to realize that this, the divine plan for solving earth’s problems, will not fail!

Dawn Bible Students Association
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