The Divine Plan

THE period in which the world finds itself today can be well described as an ‘age of anxiety’. Almost forty-four years have passed since that first nuclear cloud formed a great question mark on the horizon of mankind. Since Hiroshima, the cloud of the atomic bomb has cast a frightful shadow which darkens the destiny of all flesh. This shroud hovers over the entire earth, intensifying as new methods are discovered for the deployment of these weapons of horror. This shadow cannot be measured nor weighed, but we know it is no mirage. In its reality lurks the destruction of all mankind.

A noted writer has said, “From the earliest wars of men to our last, all we could do was kill ourselves—now we are able to kill the future.” In the 213 years of this nation’s history, it has been estimated that over one million Americans have died in battle. But today the lives of many millions can be snuffed out in one single nuclear bomb strike.

In this age of crisis, civilized nations are wrapped in irony, best described by the well-known statement that “we live in the best of times and the worst of times.” We live in better homes, we eat more varied and nutritious food, we survive more illnesses. We have probed nature for its secrets, and solved complex problems of matter and energy. We have created the highest material civilization of all times, yet amidst this sunshine of blessing we hear the threatening roar of thunder.

One leading physicist who helped usher in the atomic age gave this description of our day: “We live with an expansion of knowledge overpoweringly beautiful, vast, ramified, quite unparalleled in the history of man. We live with yearly enrichment of our understanding of nature, and of man as part of nature, that doubles every decade.” But then he added, “We have so largely lost our ability to talk with one another, we hunger for nobility—the rare words and acts that harmonize simplicity and truth.”

We live in a world of increased knowledge with no parallel, and yet we cannot establish peace. International peace has been regarded since the beginning of history as a dearly sought-after blessing, and its opposite, war, a scourge. With the great industrial revolution breaking forth in the last century and a half, it was hoped that war would become obsolete. It was widely believed that perhaps peace on an international scale could be established through the same concerted rational efforts which have brought such great benefits to mankind in other fields—but not so. The activities of the past several decades could be summed up in this rather paradoxical statement, “Peace desired—war deemed necessary.”

A proverb puts it this way: “Peace is a dream of the wise, but war is the history of man.”

Many noble and sincere men have labored long and hard to bring peace to this world. During this century many plans have been proposed to establish peace throughout the planet: disarmament, collective security, judicial agreement, peaceful change, one-world government. These have all been suggested as solutions toward a peaceful society.

Disarmament, ‘reduction of arms’—how well has it worked? This was the main proposal for peace at the Hague Conferences in the years 1899 and 1907. Both conferences passed resolutions restricting armaments. But it was only a matter of time until an explosion occurred in the form of World War I. After the war, Germany was disarmed. Disarmament was one of President Wilson’s “Fourteen Points,” in the year 1918. It was believed that this was the solution to prevent another war. However history wrote another story. Germany soon built up her arms, and another earth-shaking explosion occurred—World War II began.

Disarmament did not bring peace. Despite its unmitigated failure in the past, the principle of keeping the peace through powerful armament has been more in vogue than ever; it has produced a time which has seen an incomprehensible build-up in weapons of destruction. Numerous major wars, and much revolutionary turmoil have ensued on our globe. Recently the major powers have again given serious consideration to the almost impossible task of even limited disarmament, and this more for economic reasons than a new initiative to find peace. Many experienced observers see this situation of selective arms control as producing even more perilous times ahead.

Another experiment proposed for peace was ‘collective security’. The League of Nations was the first collective security body. It was started by President Wilson in the year 1920, and was composed of sixty-one nations. The League of Nations expected, through the common efforts of many countries, to make and keep peace in the world. But all hopes for its success were wiped out in the Second World War.

The League of Nations was formally dissolved in 1946, after the United Nations had come into being. The prime purpose of the United Nations was also to establish peace through collective security. Though now composed of 110 member nations, its efforts to establish peace through collective security have not brought peace to the world. The United Nations of today seems to be but a whisper in the wind, unheard and unheeded by even the weakest of nations. In most important matters of world crisis it is either bypassed or greatly ignored in its advice and council, and relegated to the position of an organization for helping the impoverished and hungry of the world.

Still another proposal was ‘judicial agreement’. The purpose of this arrangement was to settle disputes between nations by an unbiased body. One example is the International Court of Arbitration in the Hague Conferences. This ended in complete failure when disputes over the law itself arose. Judicial agreement did not work.

The fourth philosophy suggested is known as ‘peaceful change’. This approach calls for people to talk about ways to arbitrate peace, and to create national and international political institutes to work out ideas for peace. We have an example of this in the U.S. Peace Corps. Members are sent to foreign lands to exchange ideas, and to talk about peace. These noble efforts have brought more understanding between peoples of different cultures, but they have done little to make the climate of the world more peaceful.

Some advocate that the road to peace is through a ‘one-world government’. To insure success the nations involved would need to have similar ideas for meeting their objectives, and a common understanding of justice. Any world government, if not a tyrannical one, must have the overwhelming support of those whom it governs, to be successful. When a conflict would arise between loyalty to a single nation, or to the world government, the world government would need to receive the support. In an arrangement of this sort, too, the people must be able to expect justice from the world government. And such a government must have indisputable power to make physical resistance unlikely. It is obvious that this proposal could not go further than the blueprint stage. The present world is too fragmented along all lines for such a government to even begin to function.

In the last few years something other than outright war has also become a dire threat to peace. About thirty years ago the American Assembly (consisting of scientists, economists, religious leaders, and public officials) met at Columbia University for three and a half days, and summed up their conference with this declaration: “Among the serious threats to welfare and security, and therefore to peace, is the accelerating rate of world population growth; rapid population increases obstruct economic development and thereby contribute to frustration, social unrest, and political instability in many areas of the globe.” The American Assembly properly termed the situation confronting the entire world, a “population dilemma”—another crisis which must be met and solved if peace is to be established, and security ensured.

Directly related to the population explosion is the grim spectre, hunger. Where people are hungry there is a seed-bed of social and political unrest, riots, revolutions, and finally, war. History bears this out through such examples as the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution; and more recently starvation has existed in many parts of the world, including China, Brazil, Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Pakistan, and parts of Africa, where, at this very moment, people never have enough to eat. Much unrest in the third world is attributable to major food shortages.

Every day of the year, an average of 60,000 babies are born. One-third of these will never know a week free from hunger. And we have already recognized the fact that there can be no world peace when half its population is starving. Although the problem of hunger is as old as man, the population explosion gives it a sense of urgency as never before.

Many heroic peace plans have been devised during the last century, and some have even enjoyed an attempt at implementation. But in all these endeavors, everyone has overlooked one thing which accounts for their consistent failure. No peace program has ever considered the great and awful disease which envelops the earth and those that dwell upon it. Every human being born into the world is instantly contaminated with this plague. This terrible disease is sin. And as long as sin continues to reign, no manmade peace plan will ever be completely successful. There is only one peace plan which has taken into account this dreadful condition and has made provisions to eradicate it. That plan is the divine plan. It includes beating swords into plowshares, opening the prison-house of death, and wiping away all tears.—Isa. 2:4; Micah 4:3; Isa. 42:7; Rev. 21:4; Isa. 25:8

Yes! God has a plan designed to meet the three basic needs of humanity—peace, health, and life!

Everyone desires peace. The divine plan promises peace. God said, “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more … for the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken it.”—Micah 4:3,4

There is no one who does not desire health. The divine plan will eliminate pain and sickness. We read in Isaiah 33:24 and Revelation 21:4,5, “The inhabitant shall not say, I am sick. And there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain.”

All people desire to live abundantly. The divine plan will bring an end to death. This goes far beyond our fondest dreams. Scientists have dared to hope for a life span for man of perhaps 150 years of robust health, but certainly no more than that! But God promises that there shall be no more death! “All that are in the graves … shall come forth.” (John 5:28,29) “He [God] will swallow up death in victory; … for the Lord hath spoken it.”—Isa. 25:8

In order to understand the reason for the crisis conditions existing today we must look at the divine plan as a whole. Many see only small portions of God’s plan, and therefore have failed to grasp the entirety of God’s great purpose. A proper understanding of the divine plan brings a clear and forceful explanation of today’s events, those of the past, and those yet future as well. The Bible is an outline of the history of mankind.

First of all, the Scriptures spell out God’s purpose as being the creation of a perfect human race, living here upon earth forever under ideal conditions. To reach this goal, God designed a plan; but, in order to appreciate this plan, we must understand the character of our God. The Bible reveals God as having four basic attributes: justice, wisdom, love and power, which work in complete harmony as God carries out his purposes.

We learn from the Word of God that our earth is the only rebellious province in God’s creation. (We understand that there was a defection from God’s rule by Satan and certain of the angels, but these were cast out from their heavenly home, leaving the spiritual realm pure and unstained by sin.) On or related to this tiny planet, Earth, God has permitted sin to take its course—to bring forth fruitage from a very small beginning of disobedience—so that men and angels may literally see the dire results of disobeying God’s laws.

The Scriptures inform us how this world became rebellious. We are told plainly that God did not create mankind imperfect, as we are today. In Genesis 1:26 and 2:7 we read, “God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness,” and, “The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Man was created perfect. He was an earthly being, in the image of his heavenly Creator. He possessed the ability to think, to reason, just like his Creator, but on a finite scale and limited to earthly conditions. He was placed in an environment perfectly adapted to his needs. In this condition he was a king of the earth. His Creator instructed him that as his family increased he was to subdue the earth, and to develop it.

Had mankind remained in harmony with God, the whole world would have become a Garden of Eden. However, since man was endowed with the liberty of choice, he could obey or disobey the law set forth by his Creator. That law, simply stated, was, “Obey, and live; disobey, and die.” Adam chose to disobey, thus bringing the exercise of God’s justice—the sentence of death. And since Adam was the father of the human race, he brought upon himself and his offspring sin, suffering, and death, which has continued to plague the human family for 6,000 years.

As we have stated, God’s penalty for sin is death. It is carried out whether it comes through pestilence, famine, war, sickness, old age, or other processes. It reaches young and old, rich and poor, the famous, the infamous, and the unknown. The whole course of human history has been a reign of sin and death. And from the Bible we discover that the divine plan called for this experience. God was not caught by surprise; he knew in advance what would occur when Adam disobeyed his simple command. Since there are four ways of obtaining knowledge—information, observation, experience, and intuition—God, the Designer of the divine plan, selected experience as the best method by which to teach man the exceeding sinfulness of sin and its results.

Another great lesson which God has been teaching mankind during this limited period of permitted sin and death, is that they are incapable of establishing a government which will bring peace and happiness to its subjects. God has allowed every conceivable form of government to rule: kingdoms and monarchies, dictatorships and oligarchies, democracies and republics, communistic states, triumvirate arrangements, matriarchies and patriarchies, and others. All have demonstrated their inability to bring peace, righteousness, justice, and a satisfactory government to the world.

God gave a dream to Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar, over two thousand years ago, and sent the interpretation of it through the Prophet Daniel. The dream concerned a great human-like image, whose head was made of gold (representing the nation of Babylon), its breast and arms of silver (symbolic of the succeeding government, Medo-Persia), its belly and thighs of brass (to represent the Grecian Empire), and its legs of iron (representing Rome).—Dan. 2:37-45

History confirms that each of these governments for a time held universal sway. Each has endeavored to show the best it could do for mankind, and each has failed to bring happiness and peace. The dream and its interpretation indicated that the stone which eventually struck the image and ground it to powder represented still another world power, described as “God’s kingdom.” (Dan. 2:44,45) “In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom … shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.” In this prophecy we see the utter wreck made of all four Gentile dominions by the stone, which represented God’s power and authority over the earth.

According to Daniel’s prophecy, this stone will grow until it fills the earth. The government then established will be the fifth universal empire on earth. It will have no end. It will bring blessings to all its subjects—not disappointments and oppression as previous governments have brought. The kingdom of God will have spiritual rulers selected from among mankind, those who have followed in the footsteps of Jesus. The Bible identifies these as the ‘church’, the ‘bride’ of Christ, the ‘little flock’. They will not be resurrected as human beings, but will have received the divine nature as a reward for faithfulness. As spiritual beings they will not be visible to mankind, just as God and the angels are invisible.

This spiritual class has appropriate titles assigned to it, showing their position in that kingdom. They will be ‘kings’, ‘priests’, and ‘judges’. Since the divine plan has arranged that these heavenly rulers will have to communicate with their earthly subjects, this will be done through another class of rulers who will be earthly in nature. They will be brought forth from the grave in a perfect state, to assume their positions of authority in this kingdom. With this perfect combination of heavenly and earthly rulers, the work of the kingdom will be successfully carried out.—Luke 13:28,29; Heb. 11; Ps. 45:16

The heavenly rulers will be the executive, or law-giving branch; and the earthly class will be the law-enforcement division of government. This is suggested in Isaiah 2:3: “Out of Zion [the spiritual kingdom] shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord [divine messages through the princes] from Jerusalem.” These two qualified ruling bodies, previously tested and proven, will begin the work as outlined in Isaiah 28:17: “Judgment will be laid to the line, and righteousness to the plummet.” All earth’s affairs will be squared and plumbed with righteousness. This will mean unprecedented and effective moral and social reform. All character-depraving businesses will stop. The building of war implements and manufacture of munitions will cease. Armies will be disbanded. The new kingdom will have no need of these. It will have abundant power to execute justice in the punishment of evil-doers even before they have done injury to others. “None shall hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain [kingdom].”

God’s kingdom will have a universal educational program administered by ideal instructors. The first basic lesson to be learned by all is taught in Proverbs 9:10: “The fear [reverence] of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” One of the great difficulties of present-day education, which in many cases tends to engender pride and discontent, is its lack of emphasis of this elementary wisdom, upon which all other learning is built.

Then will come one of the great miracles of the kingdom. The divine plan calls for the awakening of the dead, giving all mankind—past, present, and future—an opportunity for everlasting life. We read, “The hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his [the Son of man’s] voice, and shall come forth.” (John 5:28) And again, “Death and the grave delivered up the dead which were in them, and the sea gave up the dead which were in it.” (Rev. 20:13, Margin) The divine plan includes a resurrection of the dead! This is possible because of the great and loving sacrifice made by Jesus Christ upon the cross. He provided the ransom to rescue Adam and his children from death; “he gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.”—I Tim. 2:4-6

The kingdom of God will spread, or increase, until it shall become “a great mountain [government], and fill the whole earth.” (Dan. 2:35) This kingdom will be in operation for a thousand years under the charge of Christ Jesus and his church, who will be the anointed kings, priests and judges. Through this rulership, sin and death will be eliminated. Every man and woman, if obedient and cooperative, will be elevated to the wonderful condition of perfection.

At the end of the designated thousand years, peace and an enforced reign of righteousness will prevail. All willful opponents will have been destroyed under the rule of the iron rod. But such a peace—an enforced peace and obedience—although proper in order to furnish an illustration proving the blessings and advantages of a righteous government, is not God’s full objective. The Lord’s ideal kingdom is one in which each individual freely and gladly chooses to do God’s will, even as it is done in heaven. By permitting evil and its fatal results to run rampant for 6,000 years, and then exposing mankind to the blessings and advantages of God’s righteous kingdom, man will quickly decide to choose the divine standards of truth and holiness. Man will learn to love righteousness and to hate iniquity. These standards must ultimately prevail throughout the universe.

Thus God’s kingdom shall come, and his will be done on earth, as it is done in heaven. Thus shall Christ reign until he shall have put down all opposing authority and power, and cause every knee to bow, and every tongue to confess the wisdom, justice, love, and power of God, the Designer of the divine plan!

When mankind will ultimately have reached its goal—perfection—at the end of the millennial kingdom, order will still be maintained. As order is heaven’s first law, so will it be earth’s first law. This righteous government will be the first thoroughly successful republic in the history of mankind!

Then, all men will be kings in their own right. Present unsuccessful attempts have been made to recognize every man as a king, and all as equals. These efforts fail because at present men are not equal—neither mentally, morally, physically, nor in many other respects. None, at the present time, is really fit to be a king. All, on account of weaknesses, need now to be under laws and restraints. However, at the end of Christ’s glorious kingdom reign, all men will be perfect—mentally, morally, and physically. They will all be kings as Adam was before he sinned. All will live harmoniously under a law they obey and respect: the law of love!

This is the glorious future which awaits mankind at the fruition of the divine plan!

Dawn Bible Students Association
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