A Law-abiding Universe — But Man!
Even much, much earlier than the word “science” was coined, humans must have wondered about the world in which they lived, and have observed that certain things, certain events happened regularly and predictably.
Since dim antiquity, we humans have known that sunsets would be followed by nights, and then sunrise and daylight. We have known that (for those living in areas with four seasons) spring comes after winter, and summer before fall. We have known when to plant and when to harvest. We have known that when we sow corn seed, we will harvest corn and not rice or barley or wheat. We have known how long it takes for a woman to conceive and bear a child. We have known enough about how things work to be able to build houses, make clothes, make boats, carts, cars, trains, planes and other means to take us to places — and many, many other things to make our lives easier and more comfortable (or more complicated?!).
Previous generations may not have known how things work the way modern man, with his ever-increasing discoveries and inventions, knows. They may have explained things like eclipses a world differently than scientists would. They may have attributed the sudden darkness at daytime to the workings of some mythical beings in the sky. But they’d taken this and the earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, typhoons and floods, lightning and thunder, snow storms and avalanches and other natural occurrences in their world as somehow “ordered” or put in place by some unseen “force,” some Deity or deities — some supernatural Being or beings.
The age of science
With the dawning of the “scientific age” (whenever precisely that took place), mankind has come to appreciate more and more the fact that our material world — and the universe — is held together by certain dependable and predictable principles, rules, or laws.
Through the “scientific method” of observation and experimentation, scientists have come to establish certain principles and laws governing our material world, and to control it to some extent. So precise and reliable are these laws that technicians have used this knowledge to design, construct, operate and maintain all the gadgets that we have now taken for granted: from the lowliest can-opener to the most sophisticated of computers and spacecraft.
In a word, we live in a law-abiding physical or material world and universe. And of all people, scientists should be the first to acknowledge this.
The enigma of man
But, enigma of enigmas! Mankind may know how to explain much of the whys and wherefores of our world and universe. But mankind seems totally unable to explain why — since the earliest civilizations — families, nations and races have been unable to get along. Why there are wars of every kind. Why there are divorces and broken homes. And why we now have an environment gone awry, causing mysterious illnesses and threatening our very survival — much of the problem of our own making. [See: "The Next Chapter of History."]
It’s not that mankind hasn’t gone by certain rules of conduct in dealing with fellow human beings. To be sure, every nation has its own set of rules and laws — written or unwritten — to govern its citizens. [See: The Great Wall.] But individuals within that nation — with their God-given freedom of choice — may choose not to go by those rules and thus cause trouble for themselves and for others. And some nations may not respect the different rules of another nation, thus resulting in conflict, if not war and bloodshed. Some man-made rules may, in reality, be unjust and are rightly opposed. Psalm 94:20 says that God will have no fellowship with a wicked ruler (one who sits on “the throne of iniquity” ) [see: Devising Evil by Law].
Because of conflicting norms, men and nations have become like sheep without a proper shepherd. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one to his own way” (Isaiah 54:6, NKJV, as throughout here). Like the children of Israel when there was no righteous leader to guide them, men and nations have done what seems right in their own eyes (Judges 21:25). They have lost their way, and God has caused them to suffer various trials and afflictions. Hopefully, the people will learn from these, sooner or later.
Men have exerted much effort to try to unite the nations by establishing some “international law,” and some “international court” to try infractions of that law. But how much success have these efforts achieved to stop the lawless streak of men and nations? Why do we still have nations at war — and much, much more so now than ever before? Even mankind’s so-called “last hope” — the United Nations — has had enough problems trying (and failing more often than not) to “keep peace” everywhere in the world. [See: World Peace -- At Last!]
Scientists have tried all these years to apply the “scientific method” in getting at the cause of mankind’s trouble, and how to help men and nations get along better. Why aren’t things working? Why can’t we control mankind’s behavior the way we strive (more or less successfully) to control our physical, material world? Let’s not forget what some extremist group did to try to control human behavior or human life — and how this plunged the whole world into a devastating world war some 70 plus years ago!
The answer to this human failure: “…the way of man is not in himself, it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). That’s not the opinion of a mere human being. The prophet Jeremiah was sent by our Creator to declare God’s opinion of man! As our Maker, God knows us better than we can ever know ourselves!
The cause of mankind’s woes
Why is man, while capable of directing molecules and atoms, unable to direct his own steps? The answer is at once simple and difficult!
Simple, if we but acknowledge the cause of all of mankind’s woes. Difficult, because most of mankind would rather reject or ignore that cause!
Mankind’s problem — believe it or not — is as simple as ABC! It boils down to rejecting the One who has set in motion all these magnificent laws governing our material world and universe.
Paul of Tarsus put his finger on the dilemma of both ancient and modern man: “…for the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:18-21).
Many, if not most, scientists and “enlightened” thinkers reject the idea of our world and universe being the handiwork of a Creator. And with it, the idea that such a Creator has His own set of laws and rules governing mankind’s conduct with our Creator, with fellow human beings, and with the rest of creation. Instead, many of these scientists and thinkers (except perhaps for a tiny minority) believe in a mindless, random “force” working through “evolution” or some nebulous “Mother Nature.”
Men have set up their own rules — in most instances contrary to God’s law — according to what seems right to them. But, God says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25).
How it all started
In what many “enlightened” thinkers consider a childish “myth” lies the key to understanding why mankind is the only lawless physical creature on planet earth. (Jesus said, “…unless you are converted and become as little children, you will be no means enter the kingdom of heaven,” (Matthew 13:8). Jesus meant for us to be child-like, not childish.
Mankind’s problem started when our first parents (Adam and Eve) disobeyed their Creator’s then one prohibition — to not eat the fruit of the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:16-17; 3:6). This, because they listened to Satan the devil, who came in a serpent’s disguise. Satan stirred up their pride and vanity, causing them to disobey God. [See: "Your Eyes Will Be Opened!" and Where Did the Devil Come From? and A Matter of Life and Death.]
Paul explains that Adam’s disobedience was a sin. Adam, as it were, opened the gate that ushered his descendants into a life of disobedience to their Creator. “Therefore, just as through one man [Adam] sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12).
Many people have abused the word “sin” to cover a myriad of little man-made rules. As a result, a lot of people smart at the idea of there really ever being such a thing as “sin” anymore. [See: Barking up the Wrong Tree, No Walls, No Ceiling? and No Such Thing as Sin?]
Precisely because Adam partook of the fruit of the forbidden tree, today every person has his or her own idea of what is good and what is evil. And because one’s idea often differs from that of other people, there is conflict. And somewhere their relationship bogs down, if not goes to pieces.
Had Adam partaken of the right tree — the Tree of Life — he would have received everlasting life, instead of death (Genesis 3:22). That tree would have given him the right knowledge of how to live a life free from much unnecessary troubles such as mankind has suffered over the millennia of human history.
Whereas knowledge about our material world and universe can be arrived at using our five senses, the knowledge of how to live rightly has to be imparted to mankind in a special way. Many Bible students call this “revelation” from God.
Paul put it this way: “For what man knows the things of a man [human knowledge] except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God [knowledge of God's ways] except the Spirit of God. Now we [Christians] have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who [or that] is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God” (1 Corinthians 2:11-12).
The “Tree of Life” in the middle of the Garden of Eden symbolized God’s Spirit. As Jesus said, the Spirit gives life, and is life as are His words (John 6:63).
Since God removed mankind from access to the Tree of Life (Genesis 3:22-23), only a few men and women specially selected by God have been able to receive His Spirit and, through that Spirit, the knowledge of God’s way — His laws and commandments — and the power to obey them. [See: God's Spirit and Obedience, The Flaming Sword East of Eden and Predestination.]
As Creator, Owner and Master of all His creation, God has the sovereign authority to impart His Spirit to people as He chooses, and in His own time. As the LORD told Moses: “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion” (Exodus 33:19, as quoted by Paul in Romans 9:15). Paul adds: “Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens (Romans 9:18). [See: The Divine Prerogatives.]
Those whose hearts have been hardened are “carnal-minded” — not spiritually-minded. As such they have a mind that is “enmity against God…not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be” (Romans 8:7).
Jesus revealed that the broad majority of mankind has taken this road, this path of least resistance that leads to death and destruction. “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).
Only “firstfruits” for now
God’s plan calls for gathering an initial “firstfruits” of those to whom God will impart, in this age, His Spirit and, eventually, everlasting life. “Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures” (James 1:18). Compared with the billions of yet unsaved humans, these firstfruits — though numbering in the millions — would seem only a “few.”
God’s desire is that eventually each and every human being will have his or her fair chance to be offered salvation. For God is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). But each in his or her own time, as God chooses. [See: Predestination.]
More saved later
If we sat down to study God’s plan, we would understand from His Word that God will call the vast majority of mankind at a later time. That’s when God will have “bound” Satan and his demons in spiritual chains, thereby disabling them from influencing mankind to sin (Revelation 20:1-3; Jude 6). [See: God's Feasts in the Book of Acts: Mere Time Markers -- or to Be Observed? and Two Goats Together, especially the sections "When will Satan be Bound?" and "Satan's fate."]
Scripture indicates that many will be called to salvation after Jesus returns to rule this earth with His saints for an initial 1,000 years (Daniel 7:27; Revelation 5:9-10; 20:4). It is that time prophesied in Isaiah 2:2-3 (also Micah 4:1-2) when those who survive the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord will come up to Christ’s throne in Jerusalem to learn of God’s laws, and be saved. We might rightly call them the “secondfruits.”
Revelation 20:5 says that “the rest of the dead” — those unsaved who have died since Adam until Christ’s return — “did not live again until the thousand years.” These billions of humans will have their chance to receive God’s Spirit, thereby enabling them to “know the things of God.” After they repent and are baptized and receive God’s Spirit, they will be given everlasting life also. We might call them the “thirdfruits.” [See: This Is Not the Only Day of Salvation.]
Thus all of mankind — those who will willingly accept God’s law and obey it — will be saved. The hopefully few who will harden their hearts even after God will have opened their minds to understand His ways — those who will prove incorrigibly wicked — will be destroyed forever in the lake of fire, to end up as ashes under the feet of the righteous (Revelation 21:8; Malachi 4:1-3). [See: Why Is the"Unpardonable Sin" Unpardonable?]
A law-abiding mankind at last!
With Satan and his spirit and human followers taken out of the way, the knowledge of sin among men will diminish and will be eventually forgotten. In its place, when Christ rules this world with His saints, people will seek to know God’s laws on how to live rightly (Isaiah 2:1-3). Such knowledge will become so widespread that it will cover the whole earth “as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9). Everyone will be so thoroughly rooted in God’s truth that they will not need anyone to teach them about God’s ways and laws (Jeremiah 31:33-34; 1 John 2:27).
Only law-abiding humans, transformed by the Spirit of God, will enjoy everlasting life with God in His kingdom and His holy city — the New Jerusalem. “Blessed are those who do His commandments, [so] that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city” (Revelation 22:14).
As you have come to this website [see: About Pool of Siloam], may God give you eyes to see and ears to hear what God said to the children of Israel in their national infancy: “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may life” (Deuteronomy 30:19). Live, not just for now but for all eternity!
Choose now to say Yes to God and His way of love [see: The Four Dimensions of Christ's Love], and say No to Satan and his way of sin and death. “‘As I live,’ says the LORD God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die…?’” (Ezekiel 33:11).
Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.