Archives for posts with tag: justice

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The Bible clearly tells us what Jehovah and his Son, Jesus Christ, will do about the suffering caused by Satan the Devil. “For this purpose the Son of God [Jesus] was made manifest,” declares the Bible, “to break up the works of the Devil.” (1 John 3:8) The present system of things based on greed, hatred, and wicked deeds will be broken up. As for “the ruler of this world”—Satan the Devil—Jesus promises that he “will be cast out.” (John 12:31) Without Satan’s influence, a righteous new world will be established, and this earth will become a peaceful place.—2 Peter 3:13.

What about those who stubbornly refuse to change their ways and who insist on doing bad things? Reflect on this straightforward promise: “Only the upright will reside in the earth, and the blameless will remain in it. As for the wicked, they will be cut off from the earth, and the treacherous will be torn away from it.” (Proverbs 2:21, 22) Gone will be the influence of wicked humans. Under such peaceful conditions, obedient humans will gradually be set free from inherited imperfection.—Romans 6:17, 18; 8:21.

In that new world, how will God eliminate badness? Not by nullifying the gift of free will and making humans robots. Rather, he will teach obedient humans his ways, helping them to turn around from harmful thoughts and actions.

God will remove all causes of suffering

What will God do about unforeseen calamities? He has promised that his Kingdom governmentwill shortly take control of the earth. The God-appointed King of that Kingdom is Jesus Christ, who has the power to cure the sick. (Matthew 14:14) Jesus also has the power to control the forces of nature. (Mark 4:35-41) Hence, gone will be the suffering caused by “time and unexpected events.” (Ecclesiastes 9:11) Under Christ’s rulership, no calamity will befall mankind.—Proverbs 1:33.

What about the millions of innocent people who have suffered tragic deaths? Shortly before bringing his friend Lazarus back to life, Jesus said: “I am the resurrection and the life.” (John 11:25) Yes, Jesus has the power to resurrect, or bring back to life, those who have died!

If the idea of living in a world where bad things will not happen to good people appeals to you, why not make it your aim to learn more about the true God and his purpose by studying the Bible? Jehovah’s Witnesses in your area will be happy to help you to gain that knowledge. You have our warm invitation to contact them locally or to write to the publishers of this magazine.

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COVER SUBJECT | THE WAR THAT CHANGED THE WORLD

The True Culprit Behind War and Suffering

On November 11, 1918, World War I came to an end. Businesses shut down, and people danced in the streets. But the dancing did not last long. Another menace—even more lethal than the machine gun—followed hot on the heels of the world war.

A deadly plague known as the Spanish flu had invaded the battlefields of France in June 1918. The virus soon proved how deadly it could be. For example, within a few months, it killed more American soldiers in France than did enemy fire. And the flu quickly spread worldwide as it accompanied the troops who returned to their homelands when the war ended.

The postwar years were also marked by hunger and economic misery. Much of Europe was starving when the hostilities ended in 1918. By 1923, German currency was practically worthless. Six years later, the whole world economy collapsed. And finally, in 1939, the second world war began—in some ways a continuation of the first global conflict. What was behind this unique string of catastrophes?

THE SIGN OF THE LAST DAYS

Bible prophecy enables us to see what lies behind certain historical events, and this is especially true of World War I. Jesus Christ foretold a time when ‘nation would rise against nation’ and food shortages and pestilences would sweep through the earth. (Matthew 24:3, 7; Luke 21:10, 11) He  told his disciples that such calamities would form a sign of the last days. More details are provided in the book of Revelation, which links woes on the earth to a war in heaven.—See the box  “War on Earth and War in Heaven.”

This same Bible book describes four horsemen, sometimes called the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. Three of these horsemen depict the same disasters that Jesus had earlier foretold—war, famine, and pestilence. (See the box  “Are the Four Horsemen Really on the Move?”) Clearly, the first world war triggered a time of affliction that has not abated. And the Bible reveals that Satan was the one who, in a sense, pulled the trigger. (1 John 5:19) Will his power ever be checked?

The book of Revelation also reassures us that Satan has only “a short period of time.” (Revelation 12:12) That is why he is full of rage and instigates untold woe here on earth. By the same token, though, the troubles we see prove that Satan’s time is running out.

 BREAKING UP THE WORKS OF THE DEVIL

World War I was indeed a turning point in history. It brought about an age of total war, sparking revolutions and mistrust of human leaders. It also provides vivid proof of Satan’s ouster from heaven. (Revelation 12:9) And this unseen ruler of the world reacted like a vicious dictator who knows that his days are numbered. When those days come to an end, the time of troubles sparked by World War I will finally end.

In the light of Bible prophecy, you have reason to trust that Jesus Christ, our heavenly King, will soon “break up the works of the Devil.” (1 John 3:8) Many millions already pray for God’s Kingdom to come. Do you? Thanks to that Kingdom, faithful people will finally see God’s will—not Satan’s—being done on earth. (Matthew 6:9, 10) Under God’s Kingdom, there will never again be a world war—or any wars at all! (Psalm 46:9) Learn about that Kingdom, and live to see the time when peace will fill the earth!—Isaiah 9:6, 7.


 

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COVER SUBJECT

The War That Changed the World

A century ago, millions of young men left the security of their homes and went off to war. They went eagerly, swept along by a wave of patriotism. “I am happy and full of excitement over the wonderful days ahead,” wrote an American volunteer in 1914.

Soon, though, their enthusiasm turned to bitterness. No one foresaw the way those huge armies would get bogged down for years in the mud of Belgium and France. At the time, people termed it the “Great War.” Today, we know it as the first world war.

The first world war was decidedly great in terms of casualties. By some estimates, it left about 10 million dead and 20 million mutilated. It was also the result of great blunders. European statesmen were unable to stop international tensions from escalating into a global conflict. More important, perhaps, is the fact that the “Great War” left great scars. It changed the world in ways that still affect us today.

 MISTAKES THAT DESTROYED TRUST

The first world war broke out because of miscalculations. European leaders acted like a “generation of sleepwalkers that stumbled unawares over the ledge of doom during that halcyon summer of 1914,” explains the work The Fall of the Dynasties—The Collapse of the Old Order 1905-1922.

Within weeks, the assassination of an Austrian archduke plunged all the major European powers into a war that they did not want. “How did it all happen?” the German chancellor was asked a few days after hostilities began. “Ah, if only one knew,” he sadly replied.

The leaders who made the fateful decisions that led up to the war had no inkling of the consequences. But reality soon dawned on the soldiers in the trenches. They discovered that their statesmen had failed them, their clergy had deceived them, and their generals had betrayed them. How so?

A statesman, a clergyman, a general, and a globe

Their statesmen had failed them, their clergy had deceived them, and their generals had betrayed them

The statesmen promised that the war would open the way to a new and better world. The German chancellor proclaimed: “We are fighting for the fruits of our peaceful industry, for the inheritance of a great past, and for our future.” American President Woodrow Wilson helped to coin a reassuring popular slogan that the war would “make the world safe for democracy.” And in Britain, people thought it would be “a war to end war.” They were all mistaken.

The clergy supported the war enthusiastically. “The guardians of God’s word led the martial chorus. Total war came to mean total hatred,” states The Columbia History of the World. And clerics fanned rather than quenched the flames of hatred. “Clergymen were unable, and for the most part unwilling, to place Christian faith before nationality,” observes A History of Christianity. “Most took the easy way out and equated Christianity with patriotism. Christian soldiers of all denominations were exhorted to kill each other in the name of their Saviour.”

The generals promised a quick and easy victory, but it was not to be. Before long, the opposing armies came to a grueling stalemate. Thereafter, millions of soldiers faced what one historian described as “perhaps the cruelest large-scale ordeal that the flesh and spirit of man have endured.” Despite appalling losses, generals kept throwing their men against barricades of barbed wire and barrages of machine-gun fire. Not surprisingly, widespread mutinies broke out.

How did the first world war affect society? One historical work quotes a veteran as saying: “The war . . . scorched the minds and character of a generation.” Indeed, in the wake of that war, entire empires disappeared. That tragic conflict proved to be the prelude to the bloodiest century mankind has ever known. Revolutions and strikes came to seem almost commonplace.

Why did the war turn the world upside down? Was it really just a colossal accident? Do the answers reveal anything about our future?


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A CONVERSATION WITH A NEIGHBOR

Why Does God Allow Suffering?

The following is a typical conversation that one of Jehovah’s Witnesses might have with a neighbor. Let us imagine that a Witness named Michelle has come to the home of a woman named Sophia.

HOW DOES GOD FEEL ABOUT OUR SUFFERING?

Michelle: Hi, Sophia. I’m happy I found you at home.

Sophia: Me too.

Michelle: The last time I was here, we discussed how God feels about our suffering. * You mentioned that this is something you have wondered about for a long time, especially after your mother was injured in a car crash. By the way, how has your mother been doing?

Sophia: She has good days and bad days. Today, she’s doing OK.

Michelle: I’m glad to hear that. It must be a real challenge to keep your head up in a situation like this.

Sophia: It is. Sometimes I wonder how much longer she will have to suffer.

Michelle: That’s a natural response. You may recall that at the end of our last visit, I left you with a question about why God has allowed suffering to continue if he has the power to end it.

Sophia: Yes, I remember.

Michelle: Before we consider the Bible’s answer, let’s review a few of the points we covered last time.

Sophia: OK.

Michelle: For one thing, we learned that even a faithful man in Bible times wondered why God allows suffering. Yet, God never scolded him for asking about it, nor did God tell him that he simply needed more faith.

Sophia: That was a new thought to me.

Michelle: We also learned that Jehovah God hates to see us suffer. For example, the Bible says that when his people were going through distress, “it was distressing to him.” * Isn’t it comforting to know that God feels for us when we suffer?

Sophia: Yes, it is.

Michelle: Finally, we agreed that considering the vast amount of power our Creator possesses, surely he has the ability to step in and end suffering at any moment.

Sophia: That’s what I don’t understand. Why does God let all these bad things happen when he has the power to stop them?

WHO WAS TELLING THE TRUTH?

Michelle: We can start to find the answer to your question by turning to the first book of the Bible, Genesis. Are you familiar with the account of Adam and Eve and the forbidden fruit?

Sophia: Yes, I learned that story in Sunday school. God said not to eat from a certain tree, but they went ahead and ate from it anyway.

 Michelle: That is correct. Now, let’s focus on the events that led up to Adam and Eve’s sin. Those events have a direct bearing on the question of why we suffer. Would you please read Genesis chapter 3, verses 1 through 5?

Sophia: OK. “Now the serpent was the most cautious of all the wild animals of the field that Jehovah God had made. So it said to the woman: ‘Did God really say that you must not eat from every tree of the garden?’ At this the woman said to the serpent: ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden. But God has said about the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden: “You must not eat from it, no, you must not touch it; otherwise you will die.”’ At this the serpent said to the woman: ‘You certainly will not die. For God knows that in the very day you eat from it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and bad.’”

Michelle: Thank you. Let’s examine these verses for a moment. First, notice that a serpent spoke to the woman, Eve. Another part of the Bible shows that it was really Satan the Devil who was speaking to her through the serpent. * Satan asked Eve about God’s command regarding a certain tree. Did you notice what God had said the penalty would be if Adam and Eve ate from it?

Sophia: They would die.

Michelle: Correct. Then, with his very next words, Satan made a major accusation against God. Notice what he said: “You certainly will not die.” Satan was calling God a liar!

Sophia: I never heard that part of the story before.

Michelle: And when Satan called God a liar, he raised an issue that would require time to settle. Can you see why?

Sophia: Hmm. I’m not sure.

Michelle: Well, maybe I could illustrate the point this way. Let’s say that one day I approach you and claim that I’m physically stronger than you are. How could you prove me wrong?

Sophia: I suppose with some sort of a test.

Michelle: Yes, exactly. Maybe we would choose a heavy object and then see which one of us was able to lift it. Actually, proving who is stronger is pretty straightforward.

Sophia: I see your point.

Michelle: But what if instead of saying that I’m stronger, I claimed to be more honest than you? That’s a different matter, isn’t it?

Sophia: Yes, I suppose so.

Michelle: After all, honesty is not something like strength, which can be proved with a simple test.

Sophia: No.

Michelle: Really, the only way to settle the challenge would be to let enough time pass for others to observe the two of us and see who really is more honest.

Sophia: That makes sense.

Michelle: Now, look again at this account in Genesis. Did Satan claim to be stronger than God?

Sophia: No.

Michelle: God could have quickly proved him wrong. Instead, Satan claimed to be more honest than God. In effect, he said to Eve, ‘God is lying to you, but I’m telling you the truth.’

Sophia: Interesting.

Michelle: In his wisdom, then, God knew that the best way to settle the challenge would be to allow time to pass. Eventually, it would become clear who was telling the truth and who was lying.

AN IMPORTANT ISSUE

Sophia: But as soon as Eve died, didn’t that prove that God was telling the truth?

 Michelle: In a sense, it did. But there was more to Satan’s challenge. Look again at verse 5. Do you notice what else Satan told Eve?

Sophia: He said that if she ate of the fruit, her eyes would be opened.

Michelle: Yes, and that she would become “like God, knowing good and bad.” So Satan claimed that God was withholding something good from humans.

Sophia: I see.

Michelle: And that too was a major challenge.

Sophia: What do you mean?

Michelle: By his words, Satan implied that Eve—and by extension, all humans—would be better off without God’s rulership. In this case too, Jehovah knew that the best way to address the challenge would be to let Satan try to prove his point. So God has allowed Satan to rule this world for a time. That explains why we see so much suffering around us—it’s because Satan, not God, is the real ruler of the world. * But there is good news.

Sophia: What’s that?

Michelle: The Bible teaches these two beautiful truths about God. First, Jehovah is there for us when we suffer. For example, consider the words of King David, as recorded at Psalm 31:7. David experienced a lot of suffering during his lifetime, but notice what he was able to say in prayer to God. Would you please read that verse?

Michelle sharing a Bible verse with Sophia

Sophia: OK. It says: “I will rejoice greatly in your loyal love, for you have seen my affliction; you are aware of my deep distress.”

Michelle: So even though David experienced suffering, he found comfort in knowing that Jehovah saw everything he went through. Do you find that comforting—the thought that Jehovah is aware of everything, even our painful emotions that other humans may not fully understand?

Sophia: Yes, I do.

Michelle: The second beautiful truth is that God will not allow our suffering to go on indefinitely. The Bible teaches that he will soon bring an end to Satan’s wicked rulership. And he will completely undo all the bad things that have happened, including the things that you and your mother have suffered. May I come back next week and show you why we can be sure that God will soon end all suffering? *

Sophia: That sounds good.

Is there a particular Bible subject that you have wondered about? Are you curious about any of the beliefs or religious practices of Jehovah’s Witnesses? If so, do not hesitate to ask one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. He or she will be pleased to discuss such matters with you.


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MANY people doubt what they read and hear in the news. In the United States, for example, a 2012 Gallup poll asked people “how much trust and confidence” they had in the accuracy, fairness, and completeness of the news reports of newspapers, TV, and radio. The answer from 6 out of 10 people was either “not very much” or “none at all.” Is such distrust justified?

Many journalists and the organizations they work for have expressed a commitment to producing accurate and informative reports. Yet, there is reason for concern. Consider the following factors:

  • MEDIA MOGULS. A small but very powerful number of corporations own primary media outlets. Those outlets exert a strong influence on which stories get covered, how they are covered, and how prominently they are covered. Because most corporations are designed for profit, decisions made by media outlets can be motivated by economic interests. Stories that may hamper the profits of the owners of a news organization may go unreported.

  • GOVERNMENTS. Much of what we learn in the media has to do with the people and the affairs of government. Governments want to convince the public to support their policies and their officials. And because the media draw on content from the government, journalists and government sources at times cooperate with one another.

  •  ADVERTISING. In most lands, media outlets must make money in order to stay in business, and most of it comes from advertising. In the United States, magazines get between 50 and 60 percent of their revenue from advertising, newspapers 80 percent, and commercial television and radio 100 percent. Understandably, advertisers do not want to sponsor programs that cast an unfavorable light on their products or style of management. If they do not like what a news outlet is producing, they can advertise elsewhere. Knowing this, editors may suppress news stories that cast a negative light on sponsors.

  • DISHONESTY. Not all reporters are honest. Some journalists fabricate stories. A few years ago, for example, a reporter in Japan wanted to document how divers were defacing coral in Okinawa. After not finding any vandalized coral, he defaced some himself and then took photos of it. Photos can also be manipulated to deceive the public. Photograph-altering technology has become more effective, and some manipulations are practically impossible to detect.

  • SPIN. Even if facts are as solid as bricks, how they are presented depends on the judgment of the journalist. What facts should be included in a story, and which should be left out? A soccer team, for example, may have lost a match by two goals. That is a fact. But why the team lost is a tale that a journalist can tell in many ways.

  • OMISSION. In arranging facts to create a compelling story, journalists often exclude details that would introduce complications or unresolved issues. This causes some facts to be exaggerated and others to be diminished. Because television anchors and reporters may sometimes need to tell a complex story in a minute or so, important details can be skipped.

  •  COMPETITION. In recent decades, as the number of television stations multiplied, the amount of time viewers spent watching just one station fell drastically. To keep viewers interested, news stations were compelled to offer something unique or entertaining. Commenting on this development, the book Media Bias states: “The [television] news became a running picture show, with images selected to shock or titillate, and stories shortened to match an [ever-shorter] attention span on the part of viewers.”

  • MISTAKES. Because they are human, journalists make honest mistakes. A misspelled word, a misplaced comma, an error in grammar—these can all distort the meaning of a sentence. Facts may not be carefully checked. Numbers too can easily trip up a journalist who, in the scramble to meet a deadline, might easily type 10,000 instead of 100,000.

  • FALSE ASSUMPTIONS. Accurate reporting is not as easy as some might think. What seems to be a fact today may be proved wrong tomorrow. The earth, for example, was once believed to be the center of our solar system. Now we know that the earth circles the sun.

 A Need for Balance

While it is wise not to believe everything we read in the news, it does not follow that there is nothing we can trust. The key may be to have a healthy skepticism, while keeping an open mind.

The Bible says: “Does not the ear itself test out words as the palate tastes food?” (Job 12:11) Here, then, are some tips that will help us to test out the words we hear and read:

  • PROVIDER: Does the report come from a credible, authoritative person or organization? Does the program or publication have a reputation for seriousness or for sensationalism? Who provide the funds for the news source?

  • SOURCES: Is there evidence of thorough research? Is the story based on just one source? Are the sources reliable, fair, and objective? Are they balanced, or have they been selected to convey only one point of view?

  • PURPOSE: Ask yourself: ‘Is the news item primarily to inform or entertain? Is it trying to sell or support something?’

  • TONE: When the tone of a news item is angry, spiteful, or highly critical, it suggests that an attack is under way and not a reasoned argument.

  • CONSISTENCY: Are the facts consistent with those in other articles or reports? If stories contradict one another, be careful!

  • TIMELINESS: Is the information recent enough to be acceptable? Something thought to be correct 20 years ago may be discounted today. On the other hand, if the news item is a breaking story, it may lack complete and comprehensive information.

So, can you trust the news media? Sound advice is found in the wisdom of Solomon, who wrote: “Anyone inexperienced puts faith in every word, but the shrewd one considers his steps.”—Proverbs 14:15.


THE WATCHTOWER DECEMBER 2013

APPEARED IN

 DRAW CLOSE TO GOD

“Look! I Am Making All Things New”

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Do you desire good health and a long life for yourself and your family? Do you long to live in a world where pain, suffering, and death will be things of the past? Such a world is not a figment of the imagination. On the contrary, a righteous new world will soon be a reality, for Jehovah God has purposed it. Note how the fulfillment of his purpose is described at Revelation 21:3-5.—Read.

“[Godwill wipe out every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 21:4) What kind of tears will he wipe out? Neither tears of joy nor the tears that protect our eyes. God’s promise refers to tears caused by suffering and sorrow. God will not merely dry off such tears; he will wipe them out completely by removing the causes of unwanted tears—suffering and sorrow.

“Death will be no more.” (Revelation 21:4) What has caused more unwanted tears than the enemy death? Jehovah will release obedient humans from the grip of death. How? By eliminating the real cause of death: sin inherited from Adam. (Romans 5:12) Jehovah will lift obedient humans to perfection on the basis of Jesus’ ransom sacrifice. * Then the last enemy, death, will be “brought to nothing.” (1 Corinthians 15:26) Faithful humans will be able to live as God purposed for them to live—forever in perfect health.

“Neither will . . . pain be anymore.” (Revelation 21:4) What kind of pain will be no more? All the mental, emotional, and physical pain that has resulted from sin and imperfection and made life miserable for countless millions will be no more.

A life without tears, death, and pain will soon be a reality. ‘But where?’ you may ask. ‘Is God’s promise perhaps about life in heaven?’ No. Consider why not. First, the promise is introduced with the words “the tent of God is with mankind,” and mankind lives on earth. (Revelation 21:3) Second, the promise describes a world where “death will be no more”—a world where death once existed but will cease to exist. Death has never existed in heaven, but it has had a long existence here on earth. Clearly, then, God’s promise of a better life will be fulfilled right here on earth.

God will dry up the rivers of tears that have flowed because of suffering and sorrow

Jehovah wants us to believe his promise of a righteous new world. Right after describing the blessings to come, he guarantees his promise, saying: “Look! I am making all things new.” Then he adds: “These words are faithful and true.” (Revelation 21:5) Why not learn more about how you and your loved ones can be among the happy worshippers who will see God’s promise become a glorious reality?


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WHAT MANY BELIEVE

“Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, ‘eternal fire.’” (Catechism of the Catholic Church) Some religious leaders say that hell is a state of complete isolation and separation from God.

THE TRUTH FROM THE BIBLE

“The soul that is sinning—it itself will die.” (Ezekiel 18:4) The dead “are conscious of nothing at all.” (Ecclesiastes 9:5) If the soul dies and is unconscious, how could it suffer “eternal fire” or even the pain of everlasting separation from God?

In the Bible, the Hebrew and Greek words often translated “hell” actually refer to the common grave of mankind. For example, when Job suffered a painful illness, he prayed: “I wish you would hide me in my grave [“in hell,” Douay-Rheims Version].” (Job 14:13Holy Bible—Easy-to-Read Version) Job wanted to rest, not in a place of torment or alienation from God, but in the grave.

WHY IT MATTERS

Cruelty does not endear us to God; it repels us. “From infancy I was taught the doctrine of hellfire,” says Rocío, who lives in Mexico. “I was so terrified that I could not imagine that God had any good qualities. I thought that he was angry and intolerant.”

The Bible’s clear statements about God’s judgments and the condition of the dead changed the way Rocío viewed God. “I felt free—that a big emotional burden had been lifted off me,” she says. “I began to trust that God wants the best for us, that he loves us, and that I can love him. He is like a father who takes his children by the hand and wants the best for them.”—Isaiah 41:13.

Many have striven to be pious out of fear of hellfire, but God does not want you to serve him because you are terrified of him. Rather, Jesus said: “You must love Jehovah your God.” (Mark 12:29, 30) Moreover, when we realize that God does not act unjustly today, we can trust his future judgments too. Like Job’s friend Elihu, we can confidently say: “Far be it from the true God to act wickedly, and the Almighty to act unjustly.”—Job 34:10.