According to Acts 17:26, 27, God has given detailed instructions regarding appointed times and boundaries for the nations. The purpose was that these should serve as signposts so sincere people should be able to find God.
Jesus said that salvation would come from the Jews, and therefore, God set the boundaries of Israel so this nation should be separated from other nations. Daniel 9:24-27 describes appointed times that should lead to the coming of the Messiah in the year 29 CE and his death in the year 33 CE. Luke 21:24 describes appointed times that should mark the time when Jesus returned as the invisible king in God’s Kingdom. After the establishment of the Kingdom, it would be easier to find God.
All humans are born with an urge to worship God. But this urge has to a great extent been suppressed by inherited sin and Satan the Devil. Because of this, the consciences of most human beings have been dulled, so they cannot distinguish between right and wrong.
For many people, the urge to worship God has been stimulated in the right way. When the truth of the Bible is painted before their eyes, they declare that this is the truth, even though they had not known what they have been looking for. In this way, the urge to worship God trumps accurate knowledge of God because this urge leads them to accept the truth before they have an accurate knowledge of God.
For most people, the urge to worship God has been stimulated in a wrong way. They believe in religions that are false, and many of them even worship figures and inanimate things. Most of these people have never had the opportunity to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ. And therefore, those whose urge to worship God has led them to worship other gods than Jehovah, will get a resurrection during the Thousand Year Reign of Jesus Christ. Then they will get the chance to reject or accept the ransom sacrifice.
Because of the words of Jesus in Matthew chapters 11 and 12, we understand that only those who have sinned against the holy spirit will not get a resurrection. And these constitute only a small fraction of all those who have lived on the earth.
The articles on this website stress the importance of accurate knowledge about God. And descriptions of the teaching of the good news about the Kingdom stress the importance of interactive learning, that is, the one who is taught must be active in his own teaching.
These are important points. But which conclusion should we draw when we compare these points with what happened on the day of Pentecost in the year 33 CE? The holy spirit was poured out on the disciples of Jesus, and the crowd that was present heard that they miraculously spoke different languages. Then Peter gave a talk where he explained that Jesus of Nazareth was the promised Messiah. After this talk, 3,000 men and women were baptized.
These people were Jewish proselytes who worshipped Jehovah. But they had not heard anything about Jesus as the promised Messiah who was killed and resurrected by God. And they knew nothing about the ransom sacrifice and the glorious future based on this sacrifice. Nevertheless, when Pater said that they should be baptized, they did this. So, we see that these people were baptized without having an accurate knowledge of God’s purpose.
How could this be the right procedure? The Watchtower of July 15, 1968, page 425, points to something that is stronger than accurate knowledge, something that trumps accurate knowledge of God. The magazine said that mankind was created with an urge to worship God. It is this “urge” that may trump accurate knowledge.
GOD’S ARRANGEMENT FOR PEOPLE TO FIND HIM
According to Acts 17:26, 27 Paul shows how God has facilitated the situation in a way that humans may find him and worship him. The translation above is from NWT13, and the translation below is made by me.
26 And he made out of one man every nation of men to dwell on the entire surface of the earth, and he decreed (prostassō) the appointed times (kairos) and the set limits (orothesia) of where men would dwell, 27 so that they would seek God, if they might grope (pselafaō) for him and really find him, although, in fact, he is not far off from each one of us.
26 And he made out of one every nation of men to dwell on every surface of the earth, and he gave detailed instructions (prostassō) regarding appointed times (kairos) and boundaries (orothesia) of their dwelling, 27 so that they could seek God, if they could grope (pselafaō) for him and find him, although, he is not far off from any one of us.
According to Louw and Nida, the word prostassō has the meaning: “to give detailed instructions as to what must be done.” The objects of the verb are “appointed times” and “boundaries of their dwelling.” God gave detailed instructions about the two objects so humans could find God when they were groping for him.
The word translated “grope” is pselfaō, and according to Louw and Nida the meaning is “to make an effort, despite difficulties, to come to know something, when the chances of success in such an enterprise are not particularly great.” For humans to grope for God and find him by themselves is not an easy task, even though God is close to anyone. Therefore, God has made appointed times and boundaries to help those who are groping for him.
What does it mean to “find God”? Isaiah 65:1 says:
“I have let myself be searched for by those who have not asked for me. I have let myself be found by those who had not looked for me. I have said, ‘Here I am, here I am!’ to a nation that was not calling upon my name.” How entreating! He wants us to approach him and get close to him.
According to Isaiah’s inspired words, finding God is not only an intellectual endeavor. But finding him means having a relationship with God and worshipping him. This is confirmed by Paul in his speech to the Greek philosophers. After he had spoken about the borders and appointed times that were signposts for those seeking God, he says in Acts 17:30-31:
30 True, God has overlooked the times of such ignorance (khronous tēs agnoia); but now he is declaring to all people everywhere that they should repent. 31 Because he has set (estēsen) a day (hēmeran) on which he purposes to judge the inhabited earth in righteousness by a man (andri) whom he has appointed (horizon), and he has provided a guarantee to all men by resurrecting him from the dead.”
We note the words “the times of such ignorance.” (khronous tēs agnoia). While the Greek word kairos refers to an appointed time, a time of a certain length, the word khronous refers to time generally. According to Louw and Nida, the word agnoia has the meaning “to not have information about.” God had not decreed times of ignorance. But up to the time of Paul’s speech, there had been a time of ignorance when it was difficult to find God. But now all people were admonished to repent, which means that those who repent will find God and get close to God.
We also note that God has a purpose. Not only would people who find God and repent come close to him, but Paul points to a reward: God has set a day when the inhabited earth will be judged in righteousness. Let us compare this with what Paul previously said: In verse 26, he uses the word prostassō (“gave detailed instructions”) and the object is “appointed times and boundaries.” This was facilitated so people could find God. In verse 31, Paul uses the similar word histemi (Louw and Nida: “to propose or put forward a particular selection.”) and horizō (Louw and Nida: “to come to a definite decision or firm resolve.” The object of histemi is hēmera (“a day”), and the object of horizō is anēr (“a man”). Words with the same colors have the same function in the clauses.
Table 1.1 A comparison of Paul’s words
|17:26||and he gave detailed instructions (prostassō) regarding appointed times (kairos) and boundaries (orothesia) of their dwelling,|
|17:31||Because he has set (histemi) a day (hēmera)|
|17:31||he purposes to judge the inhabited earth in righteousness by a man (anēr) whom he has appointed (horizō).|
So, God gave detailed instructions regarding appointed times and boundaries that should be signposts by which people could find God and come close to him. And he has set or chosen a day of judgment and appointed a righteous judge. These facts should also serve as signposts pointing to a grand future for those who were finding God and repenting. The common denominator is that God has created appointed times and a particular day that are related to finding God. Let us take a closer look at this.
THE PURPOSE OF THE BOUNDARIES
In his discussions with the Athenian philosophers as to how God could be found, Paul quotes the words of Deuteronomy 32:8. NWT13 says:
8 When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, When he divided the sons of Adam from one another, He fixed the boundary of the peoples With regard for the number of the sons of Israel.
The point here is that God set boundaries with his own people in mind. They would have boundaries so the people could have enough space. Descriptions of what God did in this respect are found in Genesis 15:18 (above) and Exodus 23:31 (below).
18 On that day Jehovah made with Aʹbram a covenant, saying: “To your offspring I will give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Eu·phraʹtes:
31 “I will set your boundary from the Red Sea to the sea of the Phi·lisʹtines and from the wilderness to the River; for I will give the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you will drive them out from before you.
The basic point in Deuteronomy 32:8 is that the people of God received their land. But there are also accounts of other nations who got their land, such as the children of Esau and the Ammonites. (Deuteronomy 2:5, 19) The inheritance of the human family was the whole earth. (Psalm 115:16) Because God had confused the languages of mankind (Genesis 11:9), it was natural that those who spoke the same language became a nation and settled in a land together. In this way, God indirectly set the boundaries of the nations.
But what does the setting of the boundaries of the nations has to do with finding God? Jesus gave an answer when he spoke with a Samaritan woman according to John 4:22. A literal rendering of the text is:
22 You are worshipping (proskyneō, present) what you do not know; we are worshipping (proskyneō, present) what we know, because salvation is (eimi) out of (ek) the Jews.
What do we learn from these words? The true knowledge of God was only found among the Jews, and therefore, people of the nations could only find God through the Jews. This will also tell us why setting boundaries had to do with finding God. The nation who had the true knowledge of God and who worshipped him in the right way had to be separated from other nations so it could be found, and its boundaries made this separation. That the people can only find God through his people is beautifully expressed in the prophecy of Isaiah 2:3:
3 And many peoples will go and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah, To the house of the God of Jacob. He will instruct us about his ways, And we will walk in his paths.” For law will go out of Zion, And the word of Jehovah out of Jerusalem.
This is a prophecy that will be fulfilled in spiritual Israel, and people will not literally go up to Zion, the mountain of Jehovah. The most important side of God’s salvation is his Son Jesus Christ, who by his death became the perfect ransom sacrifice. So, the borders of the nations of Israel and its separation from other nations served as the signpost where both the Messiah, the savior, and his Father Jehovah God could be found.
THE PURPOSE OF THE APPOINTED TIMES
Paul does in his speech to the Greek philosophers not only mention the signposts that can be used to find God, but he also points to the grand future for those who find God, namely, the day when the inhabited earth will be judged in righteousness. The purpose of the boundaries between the nations was to separate the people where God could be found and where salvation could be acquired for other nations. I will now look at the appointed times.
The appointed times leading to the coming of the Messiah
God had promised Abraham that through his seed all nations of the earth could bless themselves. Abraham’s son Isaac had the son Jacob, and he was the ancestor of the nation of Israel. So, through this nation, all people could bless themselves. And interestingly, salvation through this nation was connected with appointed times. In Mark 1:14, 15 we read about an appointed time.
14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus went into Galʹi·lee, preaching the good news of God 15 and saying: “The appointed time (kairos) has been fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God has drawn near. Repent, and have faith in the good news.”
We note that the appointed times had reached its completion. There is only one time prophecy in the Hebrew Scriptures that Jesus could refer to, namely, the prophecy in Daniel 9:24-27. My translation of these verses is:
24 70 weeks have been decreed for your people and your city to complete the transgression and to seal the sin, to make atonement for error, to bring in long-lasting righteousness, to seal vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Holy of Holies 25 You should know and understand that from the issuing of the word to restore and build Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the Leader, there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks. She will be restored and built with streets and walls, but in times of distress. 26 After sixty-two weeks the Anointed One will be cut off and have nothing. And the people of a leader who will come will destroy the city and the holy place. And its end will come by the flood. Until the end there will be war, and desolations have been decided. 27 He will let the covenant prevail for the many for one week, and in the middle of the week he will cause sacrifice and gift offering to cease. And upon the wings of abominations the one causing desolation will come. And this will be until the complete destruction, because that which is decided will gush forth upon the one becoming desolate.
Because the word mashiah means “anointed,” 37 of the 38 occurrences of the word in the Hebrew Scriptures refer to priests and kings who were anointed by God. However, in Daniel 9:26, the word “messiah” stands alone without any determination, which means that it refers to the promised Messiah that would come. The word to build and restore Jerusalem was issued by Nehemiah in the year 455, and 69 weeks or 483 years from that year ended in the year 29 CE. This was the year when Jesus Christ started his preaching of the Kingdom of God.
Finding God was connected with appointed times, and the appointed time of 69 weeks mark the arrival of the promised Messiah. When Messiah arrived, he was preaching the good news about God. And because of this, honest-hearted people could find God. Thus, finding God was connected with the appointed times of the 70 weeks. This is confirmed by Paul in Galatians 4:4:
4 But when the full limit of the time (to plerōma tou khronou) time arrived, God sent his Son, who was born of a woman and who was under law, 5 that he might release by purchase those under law, so that we might receive the adoption as sons.
Here Paul uses khronos, which is the general Greek word for time. However, the word khronos was determined by the word plēroma, which according to Louw and Nida means “the totality of a period of time.” Thus, the use of khronos and plēroma together means the same as kairos (“appointed time”). Paul connects the purchase of humans and the adoption as sons with “the full limit of time.” Paul, therefore agrees that this appointed time would help people find God and get a close relationship with him.
There is also another appointed time that is connected with the 70 weeks. In Matthew 26:17-19 we read:
17 On the first day of the Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus, saying: “Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat the Passover?” 18 He said: “Go into the city to So-and-so and say to him, ‘The Teacher says: “My appointed time (kairos) is near; I will celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your home.”’” 19So the disciples did as Jesus instructed them and prepared for the Passover.
When Jesus says that his appointed time is near, he evidently referred to his death. His death would bring atonement, and this atonement is connected with the seventy weeks in Daniel 9:24. Verse 26 says that after 69 weeks the anointed (Messiah) would be killed. The Hebrew word ‘aharē (“after”) has different meanings related to temporal succession. This means that the Messiah should be killed at a point of time after the end of week 69. Verse 27 says that in the middle of this week, week 69, sacrifice and gift offering would cease. When the Messiah died, this was the perfect offer for sins. And at that time, all other offerings became obsolete.
Thus, in the middle of week 69, three and a half years from the year 29 when Jesus started his service as the Messiah he would be put to death. This happened in the year 33, and this must have been the appointed time Jesus referred to that was near. The death of Jesus Christ was the ransom sacrifice that would give people everlasting life. Therefore, the appointed time of his death was related to finding God with the possibility of acquiring a close relationship with Jehovah.
The appointed times leading to the second coming of Jesus Christ
There are many prophecies about the second coming, or rather of the presence of Jesus Christ. When Jesus would be invisibly present, it would be possible, more than ever, to find God. The Greek word kairos (“appointed time”) is also connected with the presence of Jesus and the establishment of the Kingdom of God, which would give the people of the earth the possibility of finding God. In 1 Peter 1:5, we read:
5 who are being safeguarded by God’s power through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last period of time (kairou eskhatō).
We have already seen that the Greek word kairos means “appointed time,” and eskhatos is defined by Louw and Nida as “pertaining to being the last in a series of objects or events.” The salvation Peter refers to will be revealed during the last appointed time that the Christian Greek Scriptures mention. In 1 Corinthians 4:5, we read.
5 Therefore, do not judge anything before the due time (kairos), until the Lord comes (erkhomai). He will bring the secret things of darkness to light and make known the intentions of the hearts, and then each one will receive his praise from God.
This text draws a parallel between kairos (“the appointed time”) and the erkhomai (“coming”) of the Lord, who is Jesus Christ. In his letter to Ephesians, Paul gives more details regarding the purpose of God’s appointed times. We read in Ephesians 1:9, 10:
9 by making known to us the sacred secret of his will. It is according to his good pleasure that he himself purposed 10 for an administration (oikonomian) at the full limit of the appointed times (pleromatos tōn kairōn), to gather all things together in the Christ, the things in the heavens and the things on the earth.
At the end of verse 9, Paul speaks about God’s purpose. And this purpose was an administration (oikonomia). The Greek word is abstract and refers according to Mounce to “the management of a household; a stewardship.” Thus, the “administration” is not the household itself, but it is the way the household is managed. In connection with the time for the administration, we again meet the Greek word plēroma, which has the meaning, “the totality of a period of time.” This Greek word determines the word kairos (“appointed time”), and literally, the meaning of both words is “the full limit of the appointed times.”
Peter uses “appointed time” in the singular in 1 Peter 1:5, and the same is true with Paul in 1 Corinthians 4:5. But in Ephesians 1:10, Paul uses kairos in the plural. This means that Paul connects the administration of God with the full limit of the appointed times, i.e., with the end of the appointed times that Paul refers to.
That the appointed times of God are plural is also seen in Acts 1:7:
7 He said to them: “It does not belong to you to know the times (khronous) or seasons (kairous) that the Father has placed in his own jurisdiction.
The words of Jesus show that God has decided particular times and appointed times.” Peter and John went to the temple to pray. A crowd of people gathered, and Peter gave a speech to the Jews where he discussed the acts of God’s administration from a different angle than Paul did in Ephesians 1:9, 10:
19 “Repent, therefore, and turn around so as to get your sins blotted out, so that seasons of refreshing (kairoi anapsyksis) may come from Jehovah himself 20 and he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus. 21 Heaven must hold this one within itself until the times of restoration (khronon apokatastasis) of all things of which God spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets of old.
The Greek word kairos means, as we have seen, “appointed time” and anapsyksis has, according to Louw and Nida. the meaning “relief from distressful, burdensome circumstances.” The people to whom Peter spoke had already found God; they were in the temple praising God. Peter admonished these people to repent, and the result of this would be that they would experience “appointed times of refreshing.” After these words, Peter refers to these times with the words khronon apokatastasis. The word khronos refers to time generally, and it is determined with the word apokatastasis, which means “restitution” or “restoration.”
Taking the two expressions together we see that the promise refers to appointed times in the plural, and that these appointed times are refreshing because they will bring restoration. The study note in NWT13 has some excellent comments:
the times of restoration: a·po·ka·taʹsta·sis and ka·thiʹste·mi,
The Greek word for “restoration” (a·po·ka·taʹsta·sis ), in some Bible translations rendered “restitution,” comes from a·poʹ, meaning “back” or “again,” literally meaning “to set down.” The corresponding verb is translated “restoring” at Josephus used the Greek word for “restoration” in referring to the return of the Jews from their exile in Babylon. In papyrus writings, the word is used of the repair of certain buildings, the restoration of estates to rightful owners, and the balancing of accounts. Ac 3:21 does not specify what things would be restored, so this must be ascertained by a study of God’s message spoken through Restoration is a recurring theme in the writings of the Hebrew prophets. Through them, Jehovah promised a land restored and repopulated, fertile, protected from wild beasts and enemy attacks. He described their restored land as a paradise! (Isa 65:25; Eze 34:25; 36:35 ) Above all, the temple would be rebuilt, and pure worship would be reestablished. ( Isa 2:1-5; Mic 4:1-5 ) The foretold restoration would include both a spiritual and a physical restoration.
As the study note correctly says, that what the expression “all things” that will experience restoration refers to, is not known. But the study note points to several things that the prophets have spoken about. However, Peter mentions a factor by which the time of the restoration can be known. The beginning of the restoration will be when Jesus Christ returns when heaven no longer “holds him within itself.” According to the words of Jesus in Matthew 25:31, his coming means the establishment of the heavenly Kingdom with Jesus Christ as king. This establishment is the same as a restoration of this Kingdom. In connection with this restoration, there is a time prophecy referring to appointed times in Luke 21:24:
24 And they will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled on by the nations until the appointed times of the nations are fulfilled.
This prophecy is discussed in detail in chapter 1 of my book, “My Beloved Religion — And The Governing Body.” In ancient Israel, God’s Kingdom existed because descendants of David sat on Jehovah’s throne in Jerusalem. The kingdom ceased to exist when Zedekiah, the last king in the line of David was removed from his throne in the year 607. There is both a linguistic (lexical) parallel and a thematic (topical) parallel between Luke 21:24, and Daniel 4:10-17 where seven appointed times are mentioned. Using the same kind of calculation in connection with the seven appointed times as with the 70 weeks in Daniel chapter 9, we find that the seven times are 2520 days which represent 2520 years. If we start with the year 607 BCE, we find that the Kingdom of God with Jesus Christ as king was established in the year 1914 CE.
So, the restoration of all things by the help of God’s administration started in that year. I will now return to Acts 17:26, 27. God has used appointed times so people could seek God, and this is clearly seen in connection with the appointed times of the nations and the establishment of the Kingdom of God. A part of the sign showing that Jesus Christ was present is expressed in Matthew 24:14:
14 And this good news of the Kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.
When the appointed times of the nations ended, the Kingdom was established, and this resulted in the preaching for all the nations. So now, after the end of the appointed times of the nations, more than ever before, people could find God. Please note the demonstrative pronoun “this” in connection with the good news of the Kingdom. There is a difference between the preaching of God’s Kingdom by Paul, Peter, and John and the preaching of Jesus. Paul, Peter, and John preached about a future Kingdom that would come. But Jesus said that God’s kingdom has come. It is in your midst, because he as the king in the Kingdom was present. And this good news of the Kingdom that Jesus preached. —the Kingdom is here — should be preached after the end of the appointed times of the nations. In other words, the preaching should be that the Kingdom has been established, it is in your midst. Thus, both the borders between the nations, and the different appointed times serve as signposts for those who are seeking God and will find God.
. The NWT13 has the rendering, “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, because salvation begins with the Jews.” I see no linguistic reason for the rendering, “because salvation begins with the Jews,”and this rendering confuses the words of Jesus.
. A detailed discussion of the mentioned prophecy is found in my book. “When was the Book of Daniel Written? A Philological, Linguistic, and Historical Approach,” pages 207-212.
. A detailed discussion of the sacred secret and God’s administration is found in the article, “God’s administration — his channel of communication,” in the category, “The Governing Body.”
THE URGE TO WORSHIP GOD
According to Genesis 1:26, God said: “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness,” and James 3:9 says that all men “have come into existence in the likeness of God.” Paul says according to Ephesians 3:15 regarding God the Father, “to whom every family in heaven and on earth owes its name.” The angels are God’s heavenly family, and every family on earth owes its existence to God.
The urge to worship God is universal
In a human family, there is a strong bond between each child and its father and mother. This bond is caused by God because every family owes its existence to him, and a similar bond must exist between God the Father and his earthly children. No passage in the Holy Scriptures explicitly speaks of such a bond between humans and God. But there are passages where such a bond is implied. In the letter to the Romans Paul discusses laws made by God, and in Romans 2:14, 15 he says:
14 For when people of the nations, who do not have law, do by nature the things of the law, these people, although not having law, are a law to themselves.15 They are the very ones who demonstrate the matter of the law to be written in their hearts, while their conscience is bearing witness with them, and by their own thoughts they are being accused or even excused.
Please note the words “by nature.” These words show that the first humans were created with an urge to live according to the just laws of God. The passage shows that people of the nations who do not know the laws of God are inclined to follow these laws. There is a mechanism that helps each one to do what is right, and this is the conscience of each one. It is obvious that when humans are born with an urge to live according to the norms of God, humans are also born with an urge to worship God. The Watchtower of April 15, 1956, page 231, made the following interesting comment:
Another aspect of the instinctive urge to worship is that it is universal. It exists among men of all races, all nationalities. Even atheists worship something, though it may be their own philosophical atheism. The urge to worship is so widespread that if there were no God it would be impossibly difficult to imagine why people should spontaneously reach the conclusion that there is one.
The observations of the magazine are correct. But when we look at the situation today, most people do not worship the creator Jehovah God, but rather many other gods. And very few persons today live according to the laws of God based on their conscience. How can we explain this situation?
How the urge to worship God has been suppressed
Today the human family does not reflect the image of God. Romans 3:23 says:
23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory (doxa) of God.
The Greek word doksa can mean both “glory” and “appearance.” So, doksa in this verse may refer to the image of God in which humans were created. There are three factors that have led the human family away from the image of God, in which the first humans were created.
First, there is the sin that Adam’s descendants inherited from him. Paul gives a description of the inherited sin in Romans 7:18-23:
18 For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, there dwells nothing good; for I have the desire to do what is fine but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good that I wish, but the bad that I do not wish is what I practice. 20 If, then, I do what I do not wish, I am no longer the one carrying it out, but it is the sin dwelling in me.21 I find, then, this law in my case: When I wish to do what is right, what is bad is present with me. 22 I really delight in the law of God according to the man I am within, 23 but I see in my body another law warring against the law of my mind and leading me captive to sin’s law that is in my body.
Paul says that sin is “dwelling in” him, and this suggests that the inherited sin literally is a part of our cells, and the offspring inherits the cells of their parents.
Second, Satan the Devil is the god of this system of things, and he has blinded the minds of many people. This is seen in 2 Corinthians 4:3, 4:
3 If, in fact, the good news we declare is veiled, it is veiled among those who are perishing, 4 among whom the god of this system of things has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, so that the illumination of the glorious good news about the Christ, who is the image of God, might not shine through.
Satan and his demons work hard to influence people to turn away from God, and Satan has blinded many people, as Paul says.
Third, because of our inherited sin and the bad influence of Satan, the consciences of most people have become dull and do not function as a guide to what is right. And the good things that originally were a part of the nature of each human have been suppressed. Paul mentions this in his letter to Titus 1:15, 16:
15 All things are clean to clean people; but to those who are defiled and faithless, nothing is clean, for both their minds and their consciences are defiled. 16 They publicly declare that they know God, but they disown him by their works, because they are detestable and disobedient and not approved for good work of any sort.
Just as our inherited sin literally is a part of our cells, the urge to worship God and live according to his laws literally is a part of our cells as well, though being suppressed in the cells of many people. And this is the reason why only a few people worship God in the right way.
How the urge to worship God is stimulated in a right way
I started this study with the example of the proselytes that were present in Jerusalem at Pentecost in 33 CE. They heard one speech by Peter, and when they were admonished to be baptized, they did so and became a part of the newly formed Christian congregation. However, they had no knowledge of what Christianity really was. Did they act in the correct way when they accepted Peter’s admonition and became baptized?
We must remember the background of these people. They came from many different nations, but they were all worshipping Jehovah; this was the reason why they had traveled to Jerusalem. We must assume that these people were well versed in the Hebrew Scriptures, and therefore, they were waiting for the promised Messiah. Peter gave evidence that Jesus from Nazareth was the promised Messiah, and what a thrill it must have been for these people to understand that. What they had waited for a long time, was now a reality!
Because of this new understanding that was supported by the miracle that they heard the Jews speaking in their native languages, their urge to worship God in the right way was stimulated, and they accepted Christianity, although they did not know what Christianity really was. But these people stayed for some time in Jerusalem, as Acts 2:42 indicates. and in time they got an accurate knowledge of Jesus Christ, his ransom sacrifice, and of the restoration of all things.
I would like to illustrate the stimulation of the urge to worship God with my own experience. When I was a boy, my mother and grandmother regularly attended meetings in a Pentecostal congregation. They taught me about God but I had no knowledge of the Bible. I believed that God was the creator of all things, and as a youngster, I remember conversations where I argued in favor of the existence of God. But I did not read the Bible.
In the summer of the year 1961, I started to attend a school with the goal of becoming an engineer. I rented a room with a family where the mother and the eldest son were Jehovah’s Witnesses. They started to preach to me, and I remember two long and heated discussions. After the second discussion, they had given up on me. But they gave me the book From Paradise Lost to Paradise Regained, and they encouraged me to read it. I read the book, and when I finished reading it, I said to myself: “This is the truth!”
I did not have any knowledge of the Bible, and I did not know what the Christian way was. Did I have a good basis for my conclusion that this was the truth? The book described how the first paradise was lost. It described how Jesus came to the earth and became the ransom sacrifice, and it described how God will cleanse the earth and create a new paradise. I was certain that this was true because this was what I had been looking for without knowing what to look for. This was a clear stimulation of my urge to worship God. Four months after I read the book I was baptized, and six months after my baptism I started as a full-time preacher, and my full-time service lasted for 15 years.
I have heard about many other examples that are similar to mine. People have been looking for the purpose of life without knowing what to look for. And the message of the Bible has given them an aha experience. Even though they did not know what the truth was like, when they now saw the purpose of God outlined in the Bible, they knew that this was the truth. Their urge to worship God was stimulated, and that compensated for their lack of accurate Bible knowledge.
Recently I heard about one of Jehovah’s Witnesses who was preaching to inmates in a prison in the USA…
Many of the articles on my website are rather complicated. Greek and Hebrew words are sometimes used as well as detailed analyses of Scriptures in the Bible. That could suggest to the readers that much detailed Bible study is necessary in order to worship God. This discussion shows that this conclusion is wrong. What is needed is just an outline of the purpose of God and the understanding that this is the truth. On this basis, the inborn urge to worship God is stimulated and a good relationship with God can be obtained.
However, just as the Jewish proselytes remained in Jerusalem for some time to learn more about God’s purpose, it is necessary for those who suddenly find the truth to continue their Bible study so they can understand the fullness of God’s purpose. The basic doctrines of Jehovah’s Witnesses are directly based on the Bible, and most of what takes place in the congregations of the Witnesses is just and good.
However, particularly in the 21st century, the members of the Governing Body have given themselves unlimited power, and they have introduced some false doctrines. This has harmed thousands of Witnesses. And because I have promised Jehovah always to tell the truth, I have exposed these false doctrines and actions of the members of the Governing Body. That is the reason why several articles are complicated. In order to expose something that is wrong, solid evidence must be produced.
How the urge to worship God is stimulated in a wrong way
Most people on the earth worship someone or something. It is obvious that there can be only one truth, as Paul confirms in 2 Timothy 2:3-4. So how does God view all those whose urge to worship God has been stimulated in the wrong way?
Take for example an Adventist who is preaching to a person. While his message is different from the message preached by Jehovah’s Witnesses, there are also some similarities. The Adventist will present the God of love and his Son who is the ransom sacrifice for all men. When Jesus comes, the Adventists will be taken up to heaven where they will remain for 1,000 years. The earth will be burned, and those who are in heaven will inhabit the new earth. Suppose that the man reacts to this message in the same way that I reacted to the message that was preached to me and say, “This is the truth,” how will God view this person?
We may also consider a man who is born into a Muslim family. He has been taught about a grand future. In heaven where he expects to come, there is a huge garden with a river flowing by its side, and there are fruits and shades from the trees. He believes that this is the truth, and therefore he prays five times a day and tries to live according to Muslim ethics. How does God view this person?
We may also consider a person who is born into a Buddhist family. He is taught that it is right to fall down before idols. And he looks forward to coming to Nirvana where the suffering of reincarnations will stop. He is convinced that this is the truth, and therefore he accepts the teaching of Buddha and is abstaining from 1) harming living beings, 2) taking things not freely given, 3) sexual misconduct, 4) false speech, and 5) intoxicating drinks and drugs causing heedlessness. How does God view this person?
The destiny of those who worship a god or many gods inside a false religion
If the Adventist, the Muslim, and the Buddhist would be alive when Jesus will come as the judge in the great tribulation, would they be eternally annihilated because they used the urge to worship God in a wrong way, they practiced religions that were false? The answer is definitely No.
The letter to the congregation in Rome contains several comments dealing with Jews and people of the nations. In the first part of chapter 10, the focus of Paul is on the individual members of the Jews nation, and in verses 1-4 he says:
1 Brothers, the goodwill of my heart and my supplication to God for them are indeed for their salvation. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to accurate knowledge. 3 For because of not knowing the righteousness of God but seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the Law, so that everyone exercising faith may have righteousness.
The Jews were zealous for their own religion, and they tried to follow its commandments. But because the law was abolished when Jesus died, when they stuck to the law of Moses, they tried to establish their own righteousness. Their urge to worship God was used in the wrong way. When the Jews that Paul refers to died, would they come to Gehenna, which symbolizes eternal annihilation, or would they come to hades from which there is a resurrection? We may approach an answer to this question by looking at the Jews that lived in the days of Jesus. According to Matthew 12:38, 39 Jesus said:
38 Then as an answer to him, some of the scribes and the Pharisees said: “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.” 39 In reply he said to them: “A wicked and adulterous generation keeps on seeking a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of Joʹnah the prophet. 40 For just as Joʹnah was in the belly of the huge fish for three days and three nights, so the Son of man will be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.41 Men of Ninʹe·veh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and will condemn it, because they repented at what Joʹnah preached. But look! something more than Joʹnah is here. 42 The queen of the south will be raised up in the judgment with this generation and will condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solʹo·mon. But look! something more than Solʹo·mon is here.
We note that Jesus calls the Jews of his time for “a wicked and adulterous generation.” Nevertheless, the members of this bad generation will get a resurrection and be present on Judgment Day. Verse 41 says that “men of Nineveh will rise up with this generation.” The preposition meta (“with”) has many functions and nuances. In this case, meta functions as “a marker of an associative relation, usually with the implication of being in the company of” that is one of the definitions of Louw and Nida. Examples of this “associative relation” are Matthew 20:20 (above), 26:29 (middle), and 28:20 (below):
20 Then the mother of the sons of Zebʹe·dee approached him with (meta) her sons, doing obeisance and asking for something from him.
29 But I say to you: I will by no means drink again any of this product of the vine until that day when I drink it new with (meta) you in the Kingdom of my Father.”
20 teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you. And look! I am with (meta) you all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.”
The members of the Governing Body in the 21st century have in different ways tried to explain away the words of Jesus, that the people of this wicked and adulterous generation will get a resurrection. But the words of Jesus, including the preposition meta can only be understood in one way ·— that the people of Nineveh and this adulterous generation will be resurrected on Judgment Day. In order to drive home this point, I also quote the words of Jesus in Matthew 11:21-24:
21 “Woe to you, Cho·raʹzin! Woe to you, Beth·saʹi·da! because if the powerful works that took place in you had taken place in Tyre and Siʹdon, they would long ago have repented in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I say to you, it will be more endurable for Tyre and Siʹdon on Judgment Day than for you. 23 And you, Ca·perʹna·um, will you perhaps be exalted to heaven? Down to the Grave (hades) you will come; because if the powerful works that took place in you had taken place in Sodʹom, it would have remained until this very day. 24 But I say to you, it will be more endurable for the land of Sodʹom on Judgment Day than for you.”
The inhabitants of Chorazin and Bethsaida had heard the preaching of Jesus and seen many of his miracles. Yet, they did not believe in him. The words of Jesus show without any doubt that the inhabitants of Chorazin and Bethsaida would get a resurrection on Judgment Day, which is the thousand Year Reign of Jesus Christ. But it would be more difficult for the inhabitants of Chroazin and Bethsaida to repent on Judgment Day compared with the inhabitants of Tyre and Sidon. Jesus also says that the inhabitants of Capernaum will come to hades, and Revelation 20:13 shows that all those who are in hades will get a resurrection. The requirement that Sodom should not be destroyed was that there were at least ten righteous persons in the city. This was not the case. But Jesus shows that if his powerful works had been done in Sodom, at least ten persons would have repented and become righteous. It is obvious that persons who would have repented if they got the chance to do so will get a resurrection on Judgment Day to get this chance.
|Most persons whose urge to worship God has led them to the practicing of false religion will get a resurrection on Judgment Day.
— Jesus said that the wicked and adulterous generation in his day will get a resurrection together with the inhabitants of Tyre and Sidon.
— Jesus said that the inhabitants of Chorazin and Betsaida who rejected him will get a resurrection on Judgment Day.
— Jesus said that the inhabitants of Sodom would get a resurrection on Judgment Day.
Jesus shows according to Luke 20:35 that not all of Adam’s descendants will get a resurrection. So, the question is who are those who will not get a resurrection? Jesus answered this question in Matthew 12:31, 32:
31 “For this reason I say to you, every sort of sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the spirit will not be forgiven. 32 For example, whoever speaks a word against the Son of man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the holy spirit, it will not be forgiven him, no, not in this system of things nor in that to come.
Jesus Christ bought all Adam’s descendants by his death, and this means that all Adam’s descendants must get a chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice. Most of those who have lived on the earth and who are dead have not had this chance. Therefore, they will get a resurrection on Judgment Day to get this chance.
The ransom sacrifice covers all sins that Adam’s descendants do because of their inherited sin. But if a person does something wrong that is not based on his inherited sin, this sin cannot be forgiven. This is the sin against the holy spirit. This is a sin that is done because of wickedness of the person and not because he is imperfect due to inherited sin. Sin against the holy spirit means that a person because of selfishness continues to do wicked acts even though he or she knows that these acts are wrong. Because the words of Jesus that I have quoted above, show that so many grave sinners will get a resurrection, we must assume that those who have committed sin against the holy spirit and will not get a resurrection are very few compared to those between 20 and 30 billion people who have lived on the earth.
Those who have used their urge to worship God in a right way will be those who will be the foundation of the Thousand Year Reign. They will be used by God to welcome those who will get a resurrection and to teach these people. By this, the resurrected ones will get the possibility to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice.
. See the articles, “The members of the Governing Body have devalued and restricted the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ,” and “The members of the Governing Body do not believe in the full inspiration of the Bible.” Both articles are in the category, “The Governing Body.”
The urge to worship a god or gods is universal. In order to help people who are seeking God to find him, Jehovah has made borders between the nations so the Jewish nation through which the salvation comes is clearly separated from other nations. Jehovah has also made appointed times to serve as signposts for sincere persons, so they could know when the savior, the promised Messiah, would come to the earth, when he would die as a ransom sacrifice, and when he would return as the invisible king in the Kingdom of God.
The urge to worship the true god and live according to his laws and principles has been suppressed by the inherited sin, by Satan the Devil who is the god of this system of things. Because of this influence, the conscience of many people has been dulled and does not serve as an indicator of what is right and wrong.
Those whose urge to worship is stimulated in the right way may accept the truth about Jehovah God without having accurate knowledge about what Christianity really is. In this way, the urge to worship God trumps accurate knowledge. But after these persons have accepted the truth, they should strive to acquire accurate knowledge of God.
Those whose urge to worship is stimulated in the wrong way will worship different gods or different things. They will not experience an adverse judgment because of this. But those who have not had the opportunity to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ will get a resurrection to have this opportunity. Only persons who are wicked and have sinned against the holy spirit will not get a resurrection in the Thousand Year Reign of Jesus Christ. Because of the words of Jesus about the resurrection in Matthew chapters 11 and 12, we understand that only a small fraction of all humans who have lived on the earth will not get a resurrection.