What follows is the text of chapter 5 in my book, Can We Trust the Bible? With Focus on the Creation Account, the Worldwide Flood, and the Prophecies. The book is in Epub-format, has 1,500 hundred pages, and has 1,100 photographs. It can be bought at www.gramma.dk.
WHY HAS GOD ALLOWED WICKEDNESS TO EXIST?
Why has God allowed the wicked world for 6,000 years? I will show that this is because God’s enemy, Satan the Devil, raised two important issues that had to be settled. The settlement of these issues is very important for every human being. I will also show that while God allows wickedness, he has provided a ransom sacrifice that can rescue humans from sin and death that they have inherited from the first humans. I will also discuss the prophecies about God’s Kingdom, which had been hidden in many different parts of the Bible. Acts 3:21 speaks about “the times of restoration of all things of which God long ago spoke through the mouth of the holy prophets.” How the words about the restoration of all things will be fulfilled is shown, as well as what we can expect in the future.
Thinkers and philosophers of all ages have asked three fundamental questions regarding our life on the earth: 1) What can we know? 2) What shall we do? and 3) What can we expect? The answers to these questions have been the basis for their worldview.
We live in a world where science plays an important role. Because of scientific discoveries, we can use numerous technical inventions that make our lives easier. If we become sick, we can be treated with effective medicines, or we can have complicated operations that help us regain our health. Our knowledge of the earth and the universe is greatly increasing, and because of the technical revolution, humans have even been on the moon and have returned safely back to the earth. But what about the mentioned existential questions? Can such questions be answered by our scientific knowledge? Because of scientific developments, the average lifespan of men and women has increased by a few years, but science cannot prevent people from dying. Neither can science tell us whether life has a particular purpose, nor if there is any hope for the person who dies. This means that in spite of the great knowledge of the world around us that has developed during the last one hundred and fifty years, the most important questions regarding our life and our future cannot be answered.
Today we do not only lack the answers to the most important questions regarding our existence. But the consequence of the prevailing scientific views is a rejection of questions 2) and 3) above; these questions simply are not meaningful in that context. In all branches of science, the accepted basic axiom is organic evolution, which means that life occurred accidentally by blind forces and was not the work of a Creator. The full consequence of this view is that life has no meaning and humans have no future, because death ends everything.
A person who fully realized this consequence was the philosopher Alex Rosenberg, who rejects that anything is good or bad and that humans have a free will; life is meaningless, and we have no future. In contrast, the philosopher Anthony Flew, who had been a strong proponent of atheism, changed his mind and became a deist. A deist believes that life and our world are created by a god or gods, but then mankind has been left alone and there is no revelation or authority. The basic reason why Flew became a deist was the complexity of living beings; this complexity could not have been caused by chance but must have been caused by a Creator, in his view. That complex creatures must have been created is a logical viewpoint, but the other side of deism, that there is no communication between this god and mankind, and that the Creator has no purpose with his creation is hardly logical. How so? Because living creatures must reflect a part of the personality of their creator. Both humans and animals communicate with their offspring and the parents teach their offspring what they shall do. Moreover, humans make plans and have a purpose, and pass on their legacies to their children. It is obvious that the communication and purpose that we see among living creatures are the work of their Creator. Therefore, it is illogical to claim that the Creator does not communicate with his creatures and does not have a purpose. But where can we find the revelation from God?
The oldest religious book which claims to contain revelations from God is the Bible. According to the book itself, its first part was written in the 16th century BCE. This is also the most widespread book in the world. The entire Bible has been translated into 518 languages, and the Christian Greek Scriptures has been translated into 1,275 languages. There are more than 1,500 other languages into which a part of the Bible is being translated. A book that contains information from God must be available for people all over the earth, and the only book with such a wide distribution is the Bible.
In contrast with other religious books, the Bible deals with the three important existential questions from beginning to end. In Genesis, the first book of the Bible, the Creator, Jehovah God, is presented. He created the first two human beings perfect in a beautiful garden. He said that they should have children who again should have children, until the whole earth was filled with perfect human beings and the whole earth was a beautiful garden. If they obeyed the laws of God, they would continue to live forever on the earth. So, the answers to the three questions for them would be simple. 1) What could they know? They would get knowledge by studying all the things that God had created, and by direct revelations from him (Romans 1:19. 20, Genesis 1:28–30; 2:16, 17; 3:16–19). What should they do? They should obey the laws of God, and doing this would be a great benefit for the human family. What could they expect? The paradise in which they were created would in time encompass the whole earth, and they would live forever in happiness on the earth.
. A. Rosenberg, The Atheist’s Guide to Reality. Enjoying Life Without Illusions.
. Flew and Vargese, There is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed his Mind.(http://www.strangenotions.com/flew/)
TWO IMPORTANT ISSUES MUST BE SETTLED
The first two humans rebelled against God, and therefore the purpose of God was temporarily hindered. It is important to understand the issues behind this and how they have been settled. In the garden of Eden, a snake spoke to the first woman, according to Genesis 3:1–6. How could a snake speak? Behind the snake was a spirit creature, who led the rebellion against God, and who is called Satan and the Devil. This is shown by the words of Jesus in John 8:44. The snake told a lie to Eve, and this was the first lie—Jesus calls the Devil “the father of the lie”; the snake was responsible for the death of Adam and Eve, because he caused them to sin—Jesus says that Satan “was a manslayer from the beginning.” Which issue did Satan raise? He accused God of lying; the two humans would not die as God had said, if they broke his law. And he accused God of preventing the humans from receiving good things, and therefore Satan challenged the reign of God. This reign was not beneficial for the humans, so they should seek independence from God and govern themselves. If they did that, they would become like God and know good and bad, according to the Devil.
In addition to challenging God’s reign, he also implied that God did a bad job when he created the humans, because human beings would only be loyal to God if they received benefits from being loyal. This is seen in the words of Job 2:2–6:
2 Then Yehowa said to Satan: “Where have you come from?” And Satan answered Yehowa and said: “From roaming in the earth and walking around on it.” 3 And Yehowa said to Satan: “Have you paid attention to my servant Job? Because there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from bad? And still he holds fast to his integrity, even though you have incited me against him to ruin him without reason.” 4 Satan answered Yehowa and said: “Skin for skin; everything a man has, he will give for his soul. 5 But please, stretch out your hand and touch his bones and flesh, then he will certainly curse you in your face.” 6 Yehowa said to Satan: “Look! He is in your hand; but you must spare his soul.”
This conversation shows that Satan was tempting Job and others, and that he accused them of being loyal to God as long as they did not experience hardships. So, what would God do with the rebellion against him? He could have killed the two humans and Satan after they broke his law, and created other humans. But in that case you who read this and all other living persons would not have been born, because we are the offspring of Adam and Eve. Moreover, the two issues whether God’s rule is the best and whether humans would be loyal to God under any circumstances would not have been solved. If a man accuses you of some wrongdoing, you will not prove him wrong by killing him. God let Adam and Eve have children, but because children inherit their parents, all the offspring of Adam and Eve had inherited sin, and that was the start of our imperfect world.
How could the issues be settled and God’s purpose be fulfilled? The issue regarding the reign of God, whether it was the best reign, or whether humans could govern themselves effectively, could be settled by letting the humans try different forms of government and analyze the results. That would of course require a long time. According to Luke 3:23–38, the human family had lived on earth for about 4,000 years by the time of Jesus. If we add 2,000 years to this, we find that the human family has been on this earth for more than 6,000 years. During this time different governments have existed. Assyria and Babylon had kings who made all the important decisions. King Croesus of Lydia could be said to lead a plutocracy, reigning on the basis of his wealth. Some city states in ancient Greek were republics, and Rome had emperors and a senate. In modern times there have been dictators such as Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin. In the western world, there are many democracies, where the people have the power. In the 20th century, a new kind of rule emerged, a “world government”; the nations became members of the United Nations in order to solve problems between them with the purpose to uphold peace and security, according to its charter. All the wars throughout history, including those of the 20th and 21st centuries when the UN has been in existence, show how imperfect human governments are. Moreover, in spite of the fact that enough food is produced to feed all the 7 billion persons on earth, millions are starving because bad governments hinder the distribution of food. History shows clearly that human beings do not have the ability to govern themselves in an effective way, and the issue regarding the reign of God has been settled: His government is the best!
God’s purpose is that this earth should become a paradise with the offspring of Adam and Eve living forever upon it. This will be achieved in connection with the settlement of the second issue, whether God’s creation of the humans was faultless, to the effect that human beings would be loyal to God under any circumstances. God is perfect, and he always keeps his word. According to Genesis 2:17 and Romans 6:23, the penalty for sin is death. God must keep his own laws, so he could not just cancel this law and say that now the penalty for sin is no longer death. In order to live forever on this earth, a person must be righteous and without sin, but the problem is that we all are sinners and therefore are unrighteous. A solution to this problem is suggested in Romans 3:26.
This was to show his own righteousness in the present season, so he could be righteous also when he declares righteous the one who has faith in Jesus.
This verse shows that declaring someone righteous could not be done without reason, but it must be based on a righteous foundation. And this foundation was Jesus Christ. In which way was Jesus this foundation? As we have seen, Satan raised the issue as to whether Adam and Eve really were created perfect, or whether they did have a defect, so any human being would only be loyal to God as long as he had advantages of his loyalty. Jesus Christ came to the earth as a perfect man, exactly as Adam was, and therefore Jesus is called “the last Adam” in 1 Corinthians 15:45. During his life on the earth Jesus experienced many temptations and problems, including the pains of being nailed to a stake where he died (Hebrews 5:7). In all this he was loyal to God; he proved under severe pressure that God’s work is good and that a perfect human with free will can be loyal to God under any circumstances. Therefore, when Jesus died, the second issue was settled, and Satan was proven to be a liar.
But how was Jesus the basis by which God could be righteous when he declared humans as righteous, as Romans 3:26 says? As far as their nature is concerned, Jesus and Adam were equal; both were perfect humans. Adam used his life in a selfish way contrary to the laws of God, and because his offspring would inherit his sin, he “sold” his offspring under sin (Romans 7:14). This means that all his offspring inherited sin and were liable to death. However, we who are Adam’s offspring have not asked to be born sinners, so in a way, we are not fully responsible for our sins. Jesus followed a course completely different from Adam. The price Adam got when he sold his offspring under sin was the opportunity to use his life in a selfish way. As a contrast, Jesus used his life in an unselfish way, and he gave his life, as well as the life of his potential offspring in his loyalty to God. By this, he became a ransom sacrifice. Because Jesus proved that a human being will keep his loyalty to God under any circumstances, he proved that it was Adam’s own fault that he became a sinner. This also proves that some of Adam’s offspring, who today are sinners and cannot show perfect loyalty, would be perfectly loyal if their sin was removed and they became perfect. Therefore, we who are sinners because of Adam can get our sins canceled because of Jesus. So, because of Jesus’ death and ransom sacrifice, God can be righteous when he declares those righteous who have faith in Jesus. God’s law that the penalty for sin is death is still valid. But because of the arrangement with the ransom sacrifice of Jesus, those believing in God and his Son will not be judged by this law as liable to death. Revelation 19:10 says: “for the witness concerning Jesus is what inspires prophecy.” So, the prophecies in the Bible are basically written to point to Jesus and to what he did for us. That is the reason why Isaiah chapter 53 and Daniel, chapter 9, which we have discussed in detail, have prophecies regarding Messiah, his death, and how his death would benefit mankind.
THE RANSOM SACRIFICE FOR ADAM’S OFFSPRING
How will this arrangement in connection with Jesus Christ lead to a paradise earth? Because Jesus was the second Adam; he bought every descendant of Adam by his death. But how can the offspring of Adam be given the opportunity to accept or reject the sacrifice of Jesus? There are two sides of this question. First, the savior must be identified, and then each one of the offspring of Adam must be given the choice of accepting the ransom sacrifice or not.
The savior, Jesus Christ, was identified in the 1st century CE. How were descendants of Adam offered salvation? Jesus asked his followers to preach the good news of the Kingdom to all they would meet (Matthew 10:5–7; Matthew 24:14). So, in the 1st century CE much preaching about Jesus and the Kingdom took place in the Middle East and the Mediterranean countries. While this preaching occurred, the last books of the Christian Greek Scriptures were written, and the whole Bible was completed a few years before the end of the 1st century CE. The Bible shows how persons can be justified on the basis of the ransom sacrifice of Jesus. However, the Bible was written in only three languages, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, and that prevented people speaking other languages from reading the Bible. Moreover, to travel to different cities to preach the good news took a long time, so the preaching work in the 1st century CE went on rather slowly. In the centuries that followed, for numerous reasons, very little preaching of the good news of the Kingdom was done. But in the 16th century, several important changes began. Parts of the Bible, and later the whole Bible, were translated into languages spoken by ordinary people. The first printing presses were invented, and Bibles were printed, so people speaking different languages could read its message. Since then, Bible translation has continued, and as I already have mentioned, today most people can read the Bible or parts of the Bible in their mother tongue. In addition, an enormous preaching work is being done around the whole earth. This means that part of the 7 billion people living today have had the opportunity to hear or read the message about the Kingdom of God. And what should those who hear the message do? Accept the good news and show faith in God and his Son. And what can they expect? To live forever on the earth when it becomes a paradise.
But there is one problem. In the 1st century, some millions heard the good news of the Kingdom, and in the 20th and 21st centuries a part of the 7 billion living people have heard the good news. But what about all the billions of Adam’s offspring who are dead and who have not heard the good news? All these people are bought by Jesus Christ, so they also must have a minimum chance to accept or reject the sacrifice of Jesus. The righteous God also has an arrangement for them. Acts 24:15 says that there will be a resurrection of the righteous and the unrighteous. All these people will be recreated to life here on earth, and during a period of 1,000 years, they will gradually be brought to perfection (Revelation 20:12, 13). They will also be taught the good news, and at the end of the period of 1,000 years, they will have become perfect, just as Adam was. Then, when they are in the condition of being perfect humans as Adam was, they must decide if they choose God’s Kingdom or Satan’s kingdom. All those who do not want to serve God will be annihilated, and those who serve God will live forever in the earthly paradise. In this way, all the descendants of Adam and Eve will have had an opportunity to accept the ransom
THE PURPOSE OF GOD REVEALED IN PIECES
We may also look at the way God has made arrangements for his eternal purpose from a prophetic point of view. This is a little more complicated, but it suggests that God is the ultimate author of the Bible, and that those who wrote the books served as his secretaries.
From one point of view, the Bible can be compared with a crime story. In such a story, the persons are presented in the first chapter, and the crime is committed. In the following chapters “threads” are placed that cannot be immediately understood. Then, in the final chapter, the mystery of the crime is cleared up and the guilty person receives his sentence. And now—when everything is cleared up—we can look at the threads in the different chapters and see how each one fits into the same clear pattern. In Genesis, the persons are presented: God, Adam and Eve, and Satan. The crime—the rebellion against God—is committed, and in all the books of the Bible, there are “threads” that could not be immediately understood. In the last book of the Bible, the criminals—Satan and his seed are convicted—and they receive their final sentence, which is eternal annihilation.
After the rebellion of Adam and Eve, God uttered a prophecy and said regarding the serpent (Genesis 3:15):
I will set enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed. He will bruise you, that is, the head, and you will bruise him, that is, the heel.
It is obvious that the first human pair, and the people of Israel, who later read the prophecy in the book of Genesis, did not understand this prophecy. They could not know who the woman and her seed were and who the snake and his seed were. The Hebrew word zæra‘ (seed) has the same form in the singular and plural. But the use of “he” in connection with the bruising of the head of the snake, and “you” (singular) in connection with the bruising of the heel, suggests that two singular persons were referred to. As we have seen, about four thousand years after the prophecy was uttered, the snake was for the first time identified. In John 8:44, Jesus calls the Devil “the father of the lie,”and because the snake was the one who told the first lie, the snake must represent the Devil. In the same verse Jesus says that the Devil “was a manslayer from the beginning,” and because the snake was responsible for the death of Adam and Eve because he caused them to sin, the snake was the first manslayer and must be identified with the Devil. This was a thread in the big crime drama, but few people would understand this. How the snake’s head would be bruised was first revealed sixty years after Jesus identified the snake as Satan. In Revelation, the last book of the Bible, the grand finale of the crime drama is described. Revelation 20:1–3 tells that the Devil will be bound in the abyss for 1,000 years, and after the end of the 1,000 years the Devil will be annihilated in the lake of fire. This must be the fulfillment of the bruising of the snake’s head.
But who is the seed of the snake, the woman, and the seed of the woman? In Revelation 12:1 a woman who is on the point of giving birth to a son is seen. Before her is the Dragon, who represents the Devil, and 12:17 says that the Dragon was angry and “went to wage war with the remaining ones of her seed.” Because of the words of verse 17, we understand that this is the woman mentioned in the prophecy in Genesis 3:15. But who is she? Her seed is also mentioned, and we learn that her seed is plural. That opens up for another question: Regarding the seed of the woman, the snake should bruise his heel. So, who among those who constitute the seed of the woman is the one who will get his heel bruised? The first thread we find is the promise given to Abraham in Genesis 22:17, 18. By means of the seed of Abraham all nations of the earth will bless themselves. According to verse 17, Abraham’s seed will be numerous. However, verse 18 has the construction “the gates of his enemies,” and this shows that one member of Abraham’s seed has a special position. Abraham had the son Isaac, and Isaac had the son Jacob. When Jacob on his deathbed blessed his sons, he said to Judah (Genesis 49:10):
The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs comes, to whom the nations will be obedient.
The Hebrew expression shilō (to him) is ambiguous because it is not stated what it is that “belongs to him.” But it is clear that a ruler will come from the tribe of Judah, and the nations will be obedient to this ruler. King David was of the tribe of Judah, and according to 2 Samuel 7:12, 13 God would raise up his seed, and his throne and kingdom would be established to time indefinite. We have already discussed Daniel 9:25–27, which tells that the anointed one (mashiah) should come after a period of sixty-nine weeks. This “anointed one” must be the same as the seed of David. The prophecy of the sixty-nine ‘weeks of years’ ended in the year 29 CE, and in that year Jesus Christ started his work. When Jesus was born, an angel said regarding him (Luke 1:32, 33):
32 He will be great, and he will be called the son of the Most High, and Yehowa God will give him the throne of his father David. 33 And he will rule as king over the house of Jacob forever; his Kingdom will never end.
All the threads we so far have followed show that Jesus Christ must be the seed of the woman. (Genesis 3:15) But how did Satan bruise his heel? Evidently, it was when Satan caused Jesus to be killed. The bruising of a heel gives much pain, but normally it is not life-threatening. After being dead in parts of three days, Jesus was resurrected (Matthew 28:6), and later he was taken up to heaven. (Acts 1:9, 10) Thus, the wound of his heel was healed. We have already seen that the death of Jesus represented the ransom sacrifice, and by his loyalty until death he settled the issue raised by Satan, whether humans only were loyal to God when they had benefits.
I will now look more closely at the seed of Abraham. Galatians 3:16 says:
The promises were spoken to Abraham and his seed. The saying was not: “and to seeds,” as if there were many, but as to one, “and to your seed,” who is Christ.
As mentioned, the Hebrew word for “seed” has the same form in the singular and the plural. But because the 3rd person personal pronoun is used instead of “seed” in Genesis 22:18, Paul’s argument is valid—only one person is referred to as Abraham’s seed. However, Genesis 22:17 shows that Abraham’s seed will become numerous, and Paul says in Galatians 3:29:
If you belong to Christ, then you are the seed of Abraham, heirs according to the promise.
These words show that the primary seed of Abraham is Jesus Christ and the secondary seed are those who belonged to the Christian congregations in the days of Paul. According to the promise given to Abraham, all the nations of the earth will bless themselves by means of Abraham’s seed. How can that be? Jesus told his disciples, who were the seed of Abraham, that they should preach the good news of the Kingdom to all nations (Matthew 24:14), and that they should make disciples of all the nations. (Matthew 28:19, 20) This means that Abraham’s seed are used to offer all who want to be reconciled with God on the basis of the ransom sacrifice of Jesus, to be reconciled. (2 Corinthian 5:19, 20) Those who are reconciled will receive blessings, and therefore they will bless themselves by means of those preaching the good news. On the basis of the words about Abraham’s seed in Galatians we can understand the threads in the Book of Daniel.
Daniel 12:4 says: “And you, Daniel, conceal the words and seal the scroll until the time of the conclusion (end).” Daniel 12:8, 9 says:
And I heard, but I could not understand. And I said: ‘My Lord, what is the final part of these things?’ And he said: ‘Go, Daniel, because these words are concealed and sealed until the time of the conclusion (end).’
This means that any attempt to draw the threads of the scrolls together in order to understand the whole drama before the time of the end would be futile. The book of Revelation, where the restoration of all things is described, was written at the end of the first century CE. In 1:1 we read that the book is written “to show his slaves the things that must shortly take place.” The wicked world is still standing, and this shows that all the prophecies, including the binding of the Devil, have not yet occurred. Revelation 1:1 shows that those who would understand the purpose of God were called “his slaves.” When we go back to Daniel, the seed of the woman and the seed of Satan are mentioned in 12:10: “none of the wicked will understand, but the wise ones will understand.” It is obvious that “the wise ones” are the same as “the slaves of God” mentioned in Revelation 1:1. Daniel 7:27 calls this group “the holy ones of the Most High,” and Daniel 11:35 says that “those of the people who are wise, will instruct many.” The wise ones, in contrast to the wicked persons, will be teachers. This suggests that they belong to Abraham’s seed, the ones who will bring blessings to the nations. In Romans 16:20 there is a clear allusion to the prophecy in Genesis 3:15. We read that God will “crush Satan under your feet.” This refers to the Christians in Rome, and we must conclude that those belonging to the seed of the woman were the members of the Christian congregations. We also note that the seed of the woman mentioned in Revelation 12:17, whom the Dragon wage war against, “have the work of bearing witness to Jesus.” This is the work of Abraham’s seed by whom all nations on the earth would bless themselves. Thus, this verse also confirms that the seed of the woman and the seed of Abraham are one and the same.
But who is the woman mentioned in Genesis 3:15? Which threads do we find? Chapter 54 in the book of Isaiah describes a woman, and verse 5 says, “for your Maker is your husband,” The context shows that a collective woman is described, namely the nation of Israel. We learn from this that the term “woman” can be applied to a group of persons. But the woman mentioned in Genesis 3:15 cannot be the nation of Israel, because of the words of Paul in Galatians 4:26. In the previous chapter the seed of Abraham is described, and in this verse, Paul says: “But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother.” Revelation 21:2 speaks of the heavenly Jerusalem, so the “mother” of Abraham’s seed resides in heaven. Just as the nation of Israel with its capital Jerusalem, in a symbolic sense was the wife of God, the angels in heaven can in a symbolic sense be viewed as God’s wife. This is the woman mentioned in Genesis 3:15. Corroborating this is the fact that the symbolic woman mentioned in Revelation 12:1 resides in heaven.
The end of the crime drama is described in Revelation, chapters 20 and 21. The Devil will have his head crushed when he and all his seed will be annihilated in the lake of fire. In this way, the “test case” (basanos) is concluded, and the precedent of this case stands forever. Yehowa God is fully vindicated!
The primary seed of the woman, who also is the primary seed of Abraham had his heel bruised, and as a result of this, all of Adam and Eve’s offspring who believe in God and his Son will no longer feel the effects of their inherited sin. Instead, all things will be restored, as we read in Revelation 21:3, 4:
3 Look the dwelling of God is with mankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his people. And God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 And he will wipe every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor crying nor pain. The former things will have passed away.
When Daniel wrote down his prophecies, he said that he did not understand them. When he asked for the meaning, he was told that no one would understand the prophecies before the time of the conclusion (end). (Daniel 12:8) It is obvious that we must understand the full purpose of God before we can look at all the threads and make a synthesis of them. This was not possible before the end of the 1st century CE, when the last book of the Bible was written. And it was not even possible then, because first, the prophecies of the time of the conclusion had to be fulfilled, which they are right now before our very eyes.
There is one important conclusion we can draw regarding all the threads of the drama regarding the seed of the woman and the seed of Satan, namely that the Bible has only one author. The different books of the Bible were written down during a period of 1,600 years, but the 40 writers did not understand the threads they laid down. When we today can gather all the threads in the different books of the Bible and see that they make one coherent picture, this suggests that one person directed all the writers and what they wrote down during the 1,600 years. This person must be The Creator, and therefore the Bible must be inspired by God.