Where is God in Our World’s Trouble?

WHERE is God in our world’s trouble? This question is a proper one. Many men in high places are spending much thought and effort to remove the threat of war. Our generation realizes a nuclear holocaust could destroy civilization. We know because we have seen a sample of this deadly type of destruction.

On August 6, 1945 one bomb that was dropped on one city in Japan forever changed the future and possible fate of every living thing on the face of the globe. That one bomb killed—directly or indirectly, at once or in time—around 200,000 men, women, and children. They were blasted to bits, or crushed, or suffocated; they were stricken with radiation sickness, or simply fried to death in a man-made temperature that, for one awful moment, exceeded that which exists on the surface of the sun.

However, that moment of horror did not stop man from continuing the making of such devices. Senator Symington of the U.S. Armed Services Committee has stated appalling facts about our nuclear arsenal. He said the United States nuclear stockpile is equal to 615,365 “Hiroshima bombs.” Of course most are larger than the first one exploded. However, if one were to detonate each day a Hiroshima-size bomb, it would take 1,690 years before such a stockpile could be used.

We realize Russia, no doubt, has a similar stockpile of such destruction. But Senator Symington also states the United States and Russia “are enlarging their stockpile each day of the year.” Why does not God intervene?

In spite of the advancement of knowledge in these days, the majority of men are still ignorant and unlearned. In this enlightened day, two-thirds of the world’s population do not have the equivalent of one nutritious meal a day, nor shoes to wear, nor a bed on which to sleep. With the world hungry, we are increasing so rapidly in numbers that in 43 years, according to Dr. Luck of Stanford University, our population will be doubled. Ever since history has been recorded man has been plagued with war. Pestilence has stalked the earth. Sickness and eventual death face every being who is born. Really, the question should not be, “Where is God in our world’s trouble?” referring to the present crisis, but, “Where has God been through the countless centuries that man has lived, suffered, and died?”

God specifically promises to intervene in the troublous affairs of earth. Among the many of such prophetic assurances we will read just two. The first is found in Psalm 46, verses 9 and 10. “He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire. Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen. I will be exalted in the earth.” This is a positive statement and it foretells God’s imposed disarmament.

The second scripture presents virtually the same sentiment but enlarges somewhat concerning what follows this disarmament. It is, “And He shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken it.” (Micah 4:3-5) The concluding phrase of the prophecy, “for the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken it” becomes a special type of guarantee to a believer in the Bible. This is because in Isaiah 55:11 the Lord states to the prophet, “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” Hence, when God states that the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken it, it becomes, in a sense, his special guarantee.

When thoughtful people read these promises of God’s intervention, his plan to stop the trouble, some may ask, “If God plans to stop it, why did he let it start in the first place?” To understand this we must determine why sickness, death, and trouble started, and upon what basis God can stop it. We read in Romans 5:12, “Wherefore, as by one man, sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” This, of course, describes the original sin of our first parents, Adam and Eve. Because of that disobedience, we were all condemned to death while we were yet in the loins of Adam.

The account in Genesis informs us that Adam and Eve were created perfect and placed in a garden of perfection eastward in Eden. None of us has ever seen a perfect human being, but we can somewhat visualize what such would be like. Imagine a young man in his early twenties with the well-formed body and supple grace of an athlete. Not only would a perfect man be noble of feature and superbly proportioned physically, but in addition there would be perfection of intellect. Occasionally we observe or read of a genius in music or mathematics, or some other line. Adam had mental capacity beyond all these, and in every field of thought. His helpmate, Eve, exquisitely beautiful, was his feminine counterpart. Adam was told that if he obeyed God he would live, but if he disobeyed, “Thou shalt surely die.”—Gen. 2:17

The story is old and familiar. They disobeyed and were forced out of the Garden into the unfinished earth, as is stated in Genesis 3:22, “lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever.” Evidently in the fruit of the Garden was the perfect food required to sustain continual healthy human life. As is now suspected, the dying process that operates in man results from the absence of some necessary nutriment or nutriments yet unknown.

When our first parents were cast out of the Garden, God also stated, “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.” (Gen. 3:17,18) In a sense, when the sentence was made it was as though God turned his back to man. The phrase, “Cursed is the ground for thy sake,” at first seems strange. But when we give it thought we can see why such was for his sake. We recognize that man in his undone, sinful condition is better off when busy. We have coined a phrase to illustrate it; that is, “Idleness is the Devil’s workshop.” Some believe the mounting instances of juvenile delinquency are due in some part to the young having too much time at their disposal.

“Cursed is the ground for thy sake.” How much in evidence is this! Each continent has its vast desert region, such as our own great southwest desert, the steppes of Asia, the lifeless plateaus of Tibet, the barren Sahara, and the stubborn bush country of Australia. Also the steaming jungles of the tropics and the contrasting frozen wastes contribute to create problems to man in his search for food. He is hungry!

It was not too long after Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden eastward in Eden that they saw the spectre of death in one of its most awful forms. This was when they discovered the lifeless, battered body of Abel, slain by their son Cain. It has been given to but few people to pass through such an ordeal, where one of their children has slain another of their family. It was the beginning of violence through envy. Adam, being near perfection, lived many years; but finally, as God had decreed, death came upon him.

Probably as he neared the time of death he was surrounded by his offspring who observed the sick and stricken man. No doubt all of them were aware that his death and that of all others came because of his disobedience. So all mankind dies. As the sentence is carried out, some for a few brief years have what is called health. Others grope in darkness. Some drag crippled, misshapen bodies through life, while some live out their years with tormented minds. Yes, mankind has come to understand full well the sentence, “Dying, thou shalt surely die.”

Although God figuratively turned his back on the human family when Adam disobeyed, yet his love was operative. This becomes most manifest when we read the familiar words of Jesus, recorded in John 3:16. It reads: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

When he stated that God so loved the world, it meant that the Heavenly Father had devised a way for man to be released from the sentence of death. God’s arrangement for this release is made manifest in a statement of Paul, reported in I Corinthians the 15th chapter, verses 21 and 22: “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” It is stated that the death of Jesus would in God’s sight offset Adam’s condemnation.

Before we consider how this is done, let us note some facts concerning Jesus. According to the Bible, he was the first being God created. This is stated by him in Revelation 3:14, where Jesus identified himself in this fashion: “These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God.” The Apostle Paul confirms this in Colossians 1:15-17, where, in speaking of Jesus he says that he is “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: for by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things were created by him, and for him.”

Thus we are told that after Jesus was created, the firstborn of every creature, the Father committed to him the project of creation. Hence we realize that Jesus in his prehuman life was the most glorious being, next to God, and his existence reaches far back into eternity—beyond that point when the galaxies of stars were created. With such appreciation of him we realize better what is meant when we read that for our sakes he who was rich became poor. (II Cor. 8:9) Why, though, was it necessary to have his life transferred to earth?

The matter becomes clear when we read Paul’s words in I Timothy 2:5 and 6: “For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” The word “ransom” is translated from a Greek word “antilutron” which could be more specifically rendered, “a corresponding price.” This definition, along with the scripture previously read from I Corinthians 15:21 and 22, makes the matter clear. The entire race was condemned in one perfect man, Adam. “For as in Adam all die.” Because this was a just sentence of God, it could not be rescinded unless he were willing to let another take Adam’s place in death. This God was willing to do and even planned, as indicated in the words of Jesus, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son.” Yes, God was willing to enter into such an arrangement and his power provided for a transfer of life from heaven to Mary’s womb.

The transfer of life was necessary because the one who died in Adam’s place had to be a ransom—as the Greek puts it, an antilutron—a corresponding price. It was so essential that Jesus be a corresponding price to Adam in every detail that Jesus could not offer himself until he was thirty years of age. According to Jewish law it was considered that a male was not a mature man until the age of thirty had been reached. When this feature of God’s plan is understood, how meaningful are the words of I Corinthians 15:21 and 22, which read, “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”

This knowledge gives us the answer to one of our original questions; namely, “If God plans to stop the world’s trouble, why did he let it begin in the first place?” It started because of Adam’s disobedience and subsequent condemnation. It can be stopped because Jesus took Adam’s place in death. A recognition of this truth causes another question. If Jesus was Adam’s ransom price, why have men continued dying since he, Jesus, died on the cross?

We call upon the text quoted in I Timothy 2:6 and note particularly the last phrase. It reads: “Who [Jesus] gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” The phrase “to be testified in due time” suggests a “plan” to become operative at a specific time when the benefits of Jesus’ death will be proved to all mankind. The reason for the seeming delay in releasing mankind from death is that during the interim God has been selecting from among the children of men a class who will reign with Jesus. In the Bible this faith class is described in various ways. They are called disciples, the bride of Christ, the body of Christ, the little flock, the church, and his joint-heirs, as well as by various other titles. These who walk by faith, and who are tested and tried, are changed to spirit nature and share with Jesus in the work of rehabilitating the remainder of mankind during the reign of Christ.

Thus we see the plan of God take form. Many centuries after Adam was condemned, including all of mankind as yet unborn in his loins, Jesus was transferred to earth to die in Adam’s place. Subsequent thereto, and until the time to release mankind from death, God has been performing a special work of choosing co-workers for Jesus; namely, his church.

The return of our Lord at his second advent is to restore mankind to life, based upon Jesus’ ransom sacrifice, and with his church to assist the willing and obedient to return to perfection similar to that possessed by Adam prior to his fall. Note how specifically the Bible states that Jesus’ return is for the purpose of restoring that which was lost by Adam. In Acts 3:19 to 21 we read, “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.”

The phrase “times of restitution” refers to the kingdom reign of Jesus and his church. Its object is the resurrection of the dead, and assisting these to return to perfection. The word restitution means the restoration of that which was lost—and that which was lost through Adam’s disobedience was perfect life on a perfect earth. At his first advent Jesus came as a man to die. At his second advent he comes as a glorious spirit being to bring to the willing of mankind health, life, and happiness. Previously we said that the dark cloud of trouble over the world has a silver lining. How true this is! The prophecies which describe this dark trouble also point out that afterwards comes the restitution kingdom.

Hear these prophecies speak: “The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted. … Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth.” And now comes the afterward: “He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire. Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.”—Ps. 46:6-10

Hear Zephaniah 3:8 and 9, as it speaks of the trouble and then the afterwards of the kingdom: “Therefore wait ye upon me, saith the Lord, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy.” Now notice the afterwards: “For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent.”

This present day of trouble is described in the prophecies as the day of God’s wrath upon the world because man had violated God’s righteous laws. Man’s technological advance, coupled with moral decay and a disregard of justice and mercy bring about the worldwide trouble and threaten eventual total destruction unless God intervenes. Notice God’s pictorial language of this troubled time in yet another prophecy, and then the afterwards of peace. We read Isaiah 42:13-16: “The Lord shall go forth as a mighty man, he shall stir up jealousy like a man of war: he shall cry, yea, roar; he shall prevail against his enemies. I have long time holden my peace; I have been still, and refrained myself: now will I cry like a travailing woman; I will destroy and devour at once. I will make waste mountains and hills, and dry up all their herbs; and I will make the rivers islands, and I will dry up the pools.” Now notice the peace which follows: “And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.”

In Haggai, God pictures the trouble as a great earthquake, but then follows the kingdom picture. Chapter 2 in Haggai, verses 6 and 7 read, “For thus saith the Lord of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea and the dry land; And I will shake all nations,” (and how beautifully the next verse describes the kingdom): “and the desire of all nations shall come.” What an intriguing thought! In the restitution kingdom which comes because Jesus died in Adam’s place, the “desire of all nations shall come.”

What are some of these desires? How does God promise their fulfillment? Man is hungry. Millions are undernourished due to so much of the land surface being unproductive because “cursed is the ground for thy sake.” Mankind wants food. Isaiah 35 describes the kingdom and there states that the “desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose … for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.”

Psalm 67:4-7 describes the earthly kingdom and promises that the earth shall yield her increase. It reads: “O let the nations be glad and sing for joy: for thou shalt judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth. Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee. Then shall the earth yield her increase; and God, even our own God, shall bless us.”

High among the desires of man is that for health. How few there are who really feel healthy and strong! In our country it is customary when being greeted to use the familiar phrase, “Well, how are you?” And then to answer cheerily, “Just fine,” but generally the conversation does not continue much further until both are describing their aches and pains. Notice what God has promised to man when the kingdom is established. We read in Isaiah 33, verses 23 and 24: “For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; he will save us.” “And the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick: the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity.”

Recently statistics were published which indicated causes of death in our country. They were: heart disease 44%; cancer 16%; vascular lesions 13%; accidents 4%, and all others 23%. Through research, education, and medication, our medical authorities are endeavoring to eradicate these illnesses. The, dread killer tuberculosis has been largely eliminated in our country. However, there is one statistic which man can never change, nor has he dared to hope to do so. Of all who have ever been born, it is expected that 100% will die. How greatly man has desired to live, and how futilely he has struggled against the enemy Death! But even this desire for life will be realized in God’s kingdom on earth.

We read in Revelation 21:4 as part of the description of the reign of Christ that “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” To specially strengthen our faith that such shall be so, notice the assurance which follows this text, “And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.”

When God’s kingdom is established in the earth man’s desire for peace will finally be realized. But it will not come because of man’s effort. Instead, the Bible makes clear that it will be disarmament brought about by the intervention and power of God.

Hear the testimony of Micah 4:3: “And He shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” At present the world is pouring into defense or war 120 billion dollars a year. Think of the benefit to mankind if this enterprise and energy were turned to good things! However, some economists are fearful that a sudden stopping of armament manufacture would cause a dangerous economic void which could spiral us down to a vicious depression.

Notice how the prophecy of Micah promises not only to stop armament building, but directs the energies used therein to proper avenues of creation. “They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruninghooks.” The present worldwide trouble has a silver lining for believers in the Bible because they know from prophecies that just beyond is the kingdom of peace and life.

It indicates in Ezekiel, chapter 38, that God will dramatically intervene in earth’s affairs to protect Israel from destruction. This prophecy states that a great northern army will plan to take this country for a spoil; that miraculously God will destroy the invaders and thus reveal himself, as stated in Ezekiel 38:23: “Thus will I magnify myself, and sanctify myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the Lord.”

The same defense of Israel will also make clear to that nation why they went into captivity, and it will prepare them to recognize Jesus as their Messiah. Hear the words of Ezekiel 39:28,29: “Then shall they know that I am the Lord their God, which caused them to be led into captivity among the heathen: but I have gathered them unto their own land, and have left none of them any more there. Neither will I hide my face any more from them.”

As the Scriptures indicate, the kingdom of peace and life will not be just for the people of the nations living at the time of its establishment. We recall the Apostle Paul’s statement in I Corinthians 15:21 and 22: “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” All who were condemned in Adam shall return from the sleep of death to receive their opportunity to gain life. The fact of the resurrection is difficult for many to accept, including some who believe the Bible. The Apostle Paul is forceful, though, in stressing this doctrine as noted in I Corinthians 15:13, as he states, “If there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen.” Those who appreciate the power and wisdom of God stagger not at the possibility of so great a Being remembering and awakening all who have died. If puny man can devise computers capable of storing multitudinous facts for instant recall, then God can surely provide that record of face, form, and character of every being who has ever lived since Adam’s time.

We read in Psalm 147:4,5: “He telleth the number of the stars: he calleth them all by their names. Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.” Astronomers state that our galaxy of stars numbers over 100 billion and that furthermore there are unnumbered millions of such galaxies. If he created and named a multitude of stars numbering many billions, placed them in groups and ordered their precise pathways, we should never doubt his wisdom and power to bring back the dead.

The kingdom for which we were taught to pray shall come, and God has promised of that time in Jeremiah 31:34, “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.”

Dawn Bible Students Association
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