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? The Bible answers: “The righteous themselves will possess the earth, and they will reside forever upon it.”—Psalm 37:29; Revelation 21:3, 4.
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.
5 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 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: ‘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 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 “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 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!
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.
17Wickedness, warfare, crime, and violence will be gone. “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.
18Jehovah’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.
19Food 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.
20The 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.
21There 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.
22Sickness 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.
23Dead 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.
WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?