What Is God Doing?
A MERE glance at news headlines confirms that we live in “times of distress.” And when tragedy hits home—when we personally are affected by crime, a serious accident, or the death of a loved one—we might well ask, Does God see? Does he care? Is he even there?
However, have you considered the possibility that our expectations of God could be based on a faulty premise? To illustrate: Imagine a small child who is upset because his father has gone to work. The child misses his father and wishes he would come home. The child feels abandoned. Throughout the day, he repeatedly asks, “Where is Daddy?”
We can readily detect the flaw in that child’s thinking. After all, at that very moment, his father is working to provide for the entire family. Could our thinking be similarly flawed when we cry out, “Where is God”?
For example, some might wish for God to be an executioner whose primary function is to bring swift punishment on the perpetrator of some wrong. Others view God as little more than a celestial Santa Claus, whose role is to bestow gifts—a job, a spouse, or even a winning lottery ticket.
Both of those views assume that if God does not bring justice immediately or if he does not grant the favor we ask, then he must be insensitive to our suffering and unaware of our needs. Nothing, though, could be further from the truth! The fact is, at this very moment, Jehovah God is working to provide for the entire human family, yet not in a way that many are asking for.
What is God doing, then? To answer that question, we need to look back to the beginning of human history when mankind’s relationship with God was severely damaged—but not beyond repair.
The Damaging Effects of Sin
Imagine a house that has been a shambles for many years. The roof has caved in, the doors have fallen off their hinges, and the exterior has been vandalized. At one time, this house was in good condition—but no longer. Considering the extent of the damage that has occurred, restoration will be no small task; it will not take place overnight.
Now consider the damage that occurred to mankind some 6,000 years ago when an unseen spirit, Satan, induced Adam and Eve to rebel against God. Prior to that event, the first human couple enjoyed perfect health with the prospect of living forever along with future generations of their offspring. (Genesis 1:28) When they sinned, however, it was as if Adam and Eve vandalized the human family yet to be born.
Do not underestimate the damaging effects of that rebellion. The Bible says: “Through one man [Adam] sin entered into the world and death through sin.” (Romans 5:12) Besides bringing death, sin has impaired our relationship with our Creator and has affected us physically, mentally, and emotionally. As a result, our condition is similar to that of a run-down house. The righteous man Job realistically summed up our situation when he described man as being “short of days and full of trouble.”—Job 14:1, Holman Christian Standard Bible.
But did God abandon the human race after the downfall of Adam and Eve? Not at all! In fact, from then until now, our heavenly Father has been working in behalf of the human family. To appreciate better just what he is doing for us, consider three steps that are necessary for restoring a house and how each of these relates to what God has done to restore mankind.
1 After inspecting a damaged house, the owner must decide whether to restore it or to demolish it.
Immediately after the rebellion in Eden, Jehovah God announced his purpose to restore mankind. He said to the unseen spirit who was behind the rebellion: “I shall put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed. He will bruise you in the head and you will bruise him in the heel.”—Genesis 3:15.
With those words, Jehovah promised to destroy the instigator of the rebellion in Eden. (Romans 16:20; Revelation 12:9) Furthermore, Jehovah foretold that a future “seed” would redeem mankind from sin. * (1 John 3:8) Those promises put on record a vital truth: God was going to repair, not demolish, his creation. But the restoration of mankind would require time.
2 An architect prepares blueprints that clearly set forth what the restoration work will accomplish.
Jehovah God gave the Israelites a code of laws and designed a temple at which they were to worship him. The Bible says: “Those things are a shadow of the things to come.” (Colossians 2:17) Like blueprints, they represented something greater.
For example, the Israelites offered animal sacrifices to obtain forgiveness of sins. (Leviticus 17:11) That practice foreshadowed a greater sacrifice that would be offered centuries later—a sacrifice that would provide mankind with true redemption. * The very layout of the tabernacle and temple at which the Israelites worshipped prefigured the steps that the future Messiah would take, from his sacrificial death to his ascension to heaven.—See the chart on page 7.
3 A builder is chosen who will follow the blueprints and perform the restoration.
Jesus was the promised Messiah who would follow the pattern that was set by the Israelites’ sacrifices and would give his own life to redeem mankind. Indeed, John the Baptizer called Jesus “the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29) Jesus willingly accepted the assignment. He stated: “I have come down from heaven to do, not my will, but the will of him that sent me.”—John 6:38.
God’s will for Jesus included that he not only would “give his soul a ransom in exchange for many” but also would make a covenant with his followers for a Kingdom. (Matthew 20:28; Luke 22:29, 30) That Kingdom is the means by which God will accomplish his purpose for mankind. The message about God’s Kingdom is called “good news” because it explains that God has set up a government in heaven to take control of earth’s affairs!—Matthew 24:14; Daniel 2:44. *
Restoration Work Continues
Before his ascension to heaven, Jesus commanded his followers: “Make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit . . . And, look! I am with you all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.”—Matthew 28:19, 20.
So the restoration of mankind would not end with Jesus’ death. It would continue all the way to “the conclusion of the system of things”—the time when God’s Kingdom would begin to take control of our earth. That time is now here. We know this because the sign that Jesus foretold regarding “the conclusion of the system of things” is now being fulfilled. *—Matthew 24:3-14; Luke 21:7-11; 2 Timothy 3:1-5.
Today, in 236 lands, Jehovah’s Witnesses obey Jesus’ command to preach the good news of God’s Kingdom. In fact, the magazine you are reading is designed to help you learn more about that Kingdom and what it will accomplish. On page 2 of each issue of The Watchtower, you will find this comment: “This magazine . . . comforts people with the good news that God’s Kingdom, which is a real government in heaven, will soon bring an end to all wickedness and transform the earth into a paradise. It promotes faith in Jesus Christ, who died so that we might gain everlasting life and who is now ruling as King of God’s Kingdom.”
Granted, right now you might still hear of terrorist attacks or natural disasters, or you may experience a personal tragedy. But a study of the Bible will convince you that God has not left mankind. On the contrary, “he is not far off from each one of us.” (Acts 17:27) And his promise to restore what our original parents lost will succeed.—Isaiah 55:11.
^ par. 2 Jehovah is the name of God as revealed in the Bible.
^ par. 19 For more information, see chapter 5 of the book What Does the Bible Really Teach? published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
^ par. 22 For more information about God’s Kingdom, see chapter 8 of the book What Does the Bible Really Teach?
^ par. 25 For more information, see chapter 9 of the book What Does the Bible Really Teach?
[Chart/Pictures on page 7]
(For fully formatted text, see publication)
“A Copy of the Reality”—What the Tabernacle Pictured
God’s willingness to accept Jesus’ sacrifice.—HEBREWS 13:10-12.
THE HIGH PRIEST
2 The high priest passed to the other side of the curtain separating the Holy from the Most Holy.
2 After his resurrection, Jesus ‘passed to the other side of the curtain’ by ascending to heaven “to appear before the person of God for us.”—HEBREWS 9:24-28.
THE MOST HOLY
3 Once inside the Most Holy, the high priest spattered some of the blood of the sacrifice before the ark of the covenant.—LEVITICUS 16:12-14.