Every day the TV, radio, newspapers and the Internet remind us that we live in what the Bible calls “this present evil world” (Gal. 1:4). This world has resulted from Adam’s disobedience and the resulting penalty of “dying thou shalt die” which has condemned mankind to a lifetime of imperfection, sin, suffering and finally, death (Gen. 2:17 KJV margin). Because of Adam’s disobedience, man has become a fallen, imperfect creature driven in a large part by selfishness, greed and other unholy motivations.
The evil practiced by man rose rapidly following Adam’s disobedience until it reached a peak in the days of Noah. As a result, God destroyed all mankind except Noah and his family in the flood (Gen. 6:1-8:22). Evil then grew rapidly again until the tower of Babel where God confounded man’s language to limit his ability to band together in evil schemes (Gen. 11:1-9).
Still, since that time, evil has continued to grow as the human family has grown. The powerful continue to oppress and take advantage of the weak. Nations, tribes and religious groups continue to fight competing nations, tribes, and religious groups, all in the name of supremacy. Human history has become a saga of man’s inhumanity to his fellow man.
With the increase of knowledge associated with our Lord’s return, evil has increased greatly resulting in world wars, genocide and ethnic cleansing on a huge scale and an enormous gulf between the wealth and privilege of the rich and the poverty and despair of the countless poor (Dan. 12:4). For the past 70 years, man has possessed the potential for destroying himself and the world sits on the brink of annihilation. Jesus prophesied regarding our day, “Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved” (Matt. 24:22 NASB).
God had foreseen this development of evil and has both allowed it and overruled it to teach all of His intelligent creation, both men and angels, the ugly result of sin – misery, unhappiness and destruction. God has always had evil under control as the Psalmist writes: “The wrath of man shall praise thee [God]: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain” (Psa. 76:10).
This permission of evil is only half of the lesson God intends to teach his children – “the knowledge of … evil” (Gen. 2:17). God’s plan of salvation also plans to teach mankind “the knowledge of good” through his son’s earthly kingdom. This second phase of God’s plan awaits the completion of the church, Christ’s bride, who then will be joined with her Lord and judge both men and angels (1 Cor. 6:2-3).
The intensity of the trouble today and other signs, such as the re-gathering of the nation of Israel, indicate that we are in the final days of this trouble and this present evil world (Matt. 24:30-33). The trouble will culminate in the attack of Gog and his allies upon Israel and mankind’s descent into the chaos of Armageddon (Ezek. 38,39; Rev. 16:16-21).
God will rescue Israel by defeating the hoard of Gog’s attackers through His miraculous intervention which will reveal himself both to Israel and to all mankind. The trouble
of Armageddon will bring every man’s hand against his neighbor and lead to the complete destruction of all man’s institutions – financial, religious, social and political (Zech. 14:13; 2 Pet. 3:10,11). Everything that man has created with his selfish spirit and fallen wisdom will be removed so that Christ’s kingdom can take its place.
The Apostle Paul describes this trouble saying, “‘YET ONCE MORE I WILL SHAKE NOT ONLY THE EARTH, BUT ALSO THE HEAVEN.’ This expression, ‘Yet once more,’ denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain” (Heb. 12:26,27 NASB).
Under Christ’s kingdom, Satan will be bound, the “stones” of evil influence will be removed and mankind will be taught good (Rev. 20:1-3; Isa. 62:10). In Christ’s kingdom, the Lord’s judgments will be in the earth and the people will learn righteousness (Isa. 26:9). Death and hell will give up the dead that are in them and all who have ever lived will have the opportunity to eat “from the tree of the knowledge of good” (Rev. 20:13; Gen. 2:17).
All mankind will have the opportunity to profit from that knowledge and gain everlasting life by obedience to that knowledge. “And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds” (Rev. 20:12 NASB). Christ will judge mankind according to their deeds in that kingdom.
Jesus’ parable of the sheep and the goats reveals how that judgment will take place (Matt. 25:31-46). Those who learn the lesson of good and demonstrate that knowledge by helping one another through love, will gain everlasting life as part of the sheep class (Matt. 25:34-40). Those who do not learn the lesson of good and thus, fail to help others due to a lack of love, will be destroyed forever as part of the goat class (Matt. 25:41-45).
How thankful we should be for God’s provision to teach all mankind good through His son’s kingdom. This will give each an opportunity to learn the lesson of righteousness and thereby, gain everlasting life.
To learn more, see our ad for the booklet Why God Permits Evil on the back page.