Kings for a Thousand Years Without Successors
1. From whose time onward have man-made kingdoms proved unsatisfying?
MAN-MADE kingdoms have not turned out to be satisfying to human needs. From at least the twenty-second century before our Common Era, or more than 4,150 years ago, the human family began to have man-made kingdoms. The name of the first human king on record is Nimrod, the great-grandson of the ark-builder Noah, and Nimrod appears to have been a self-made king, according to the record of Genesis 10:8-12.
2. (a) What was Noah’s attitude toward kingdom? (b) For what type of government do the majority of people have a decided preference today?
2 Noah, who outlived the beginning of Nimrod’s kingdom, did not make him the king of Babel (or Babylon). Noah did not make even himself a king, but continued merely as the patriarchal head of the expanding human family. (Genesis 9:28, 29; 10:32 to 11:9) Today, for the most part, the peoples have tired of having kings with their hereditary successors in their natural families. There is a decided preference for people’s governments, such as republics and democracies with popularly elected presidents. Under these democracies the people soon tire of one set of rulers provided mostly by one political party and seek for a change by electing to office candidates provided by another political party.
3. Who has had his fill of man-made kingdoms, and what did he have declared in the location of the first man-made kingdom?
3 Humans are not the only ones tired of man-made kingdoms with their hereditary successors. God is also. In fact, God is tired of all the man-made governments on earth today.a If the people have not yet had their fill of them, He has. In fact, it is on His property (the earth) that these man-made governments have carried on their misrule or unsatisfying rule, inadequate rule. That is why He had it declared in the place where the first man-made king came to power, in Babylon itself, that in His own chosen time he would destroy all these man-made governments to make way for the thousand-year reign of his Son, Jesus Christ. Through his prophet Daniel he said to Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon: “In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin. And the kingdom itself will not be passed on to any other people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite.”—Daniel 2:44.
4, 5. (a) Who are the rulers over mankind whom God loves? (b) According to the apostle John, the love of such rulers for God ensures their love also of whom else?
4 According to this purpose of His, the Most High God of heaven does not love those kings and other political rulers on earth. They do not love Him either, even though many of them may be kings and political rulers of what is called Christendom. If they did love Him, they would be doing what Jesus Christ, the Son of God, said to his disciples: “Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness,” and they would not be holding political office in some man-made government today. (Matthew 6:33) It is very important for mankind to have as king over them a person whom the God of heaven loves. That holds true for the associates of such a king: for mankind’s good they should be persons whom God loves. That is why he will keep them in office. That is why he puts them in office, in the first place. They are and will be lovers of the one living and true God. This means, necessarily, that they will be lovers of the people on earth also. On this very point the apostle John wrote:
5 “If anyone makes the statement: ‘I love God,’ and yet is hating his brother, he is a liar. For he who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot be loving God, whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him, that the one who loves God should be loving his brother also.”—1 John 4:20, 21.
6. How has the insistence of rulers on keeping their boundaries and sovereignties affected mankind?
6 Human kings and other political rulers have been very jealous of their national or state boundaries, which act as dividers between nations and peoples. Each political ruler seeks to hold control within his own territory, and he expects the people therein to be loyal to him. Under this system of things, the earth has been cut up into many national and state territories in each of which national sovereignty is insisted upon, and this has not worked for the unifying of all mankind. National rivalries have developed. So now an intriguing question arises.
7. What is God’s purpose concerning heavenly rulership of the earth, and how does Revelation 14:1-5 indicate this?
7 The divine purpose is not to have Jesus Christ rule as king alone for the thousand years. The beloved Son of God is not to stand up alone as King on the heavenly Mount Zion, the seat of government. But, as the apostle John tells us: “I saw, and, look! the Lamb standing upon the Mount Zion, and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand having his name and the name of his Father written on their foreheads. . . . And they are singing as if a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no one was able to master that song but the hundred and forty-four thousand, who have been bought from the earth. . . . These are the ones that keep following the Lamb no matter where he goes. These were bought from among mankind as firstfruits to God and to the Lamb, and no falsehood was found in their mouths; they are without blemish.”—Revelation 14:1-5.
8. What questions arise as to the territorial assignments to members of the 144,000 Kingdom heirs, and also language considerations?
8 Since there will thus be 144,001 royal rulers over the earth, does this mean that the earth will be divided up into 144,000 territories, with one of the 144,000 over each individual territory, and with the people therein being responsible to that particular one as king under Jesus Christ the Head King? Would not such a parceling out of the inhabitants of the earth result in boundaries, even though invisible, and would not this create some measure of difference between earth’s inhabitants on different sides of the boundaries? Also, would a former Chinese-speaking Kingdom heir be appointed over an area inhabited by Chinese-speaking people, a Russian-speaking Kingdom heir over a Russian-speaking population, an English-speaking Kingdom heir over English-speaking, and so on according to the distinct language groups? Will divisive language barriers continue to exist, hindering mutual understanding?
9. (a) From among whom have the 144,000 Kingdom heirs been taken out, in accord with what command of Jesus? (b) What question comes up as to their language differences?
9 These are natural questions, proper questions. But in this regard it must be said that the Bible does not indicate what assignments of kingly responsibility will be given out through the Head King Jesus Christ to the individuals making up the 144,000 joint heirs of Christ. Over the past nineteen centuries since the founding of the Christian congregation in 33 C.E., these 144,000 joint heirs of Christ have been taken out from nations, peoples and tribes of many languages. Said the resurrected Jesus Christ to his disciples who were gathered together in Galilee some days before he ascended back to heaven: “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them.” (Matthew 28:19) Are we to imagine that up in heaven, in Kingdom glory, the 144,000 associate kings will be divided by language differences and need interpreters? The apostle Paul wrote about the “tongues of men and of angels.”—1 Corinthians 13:1.
10. What will be the language of the 144,000 in heaven, and what becomes of their former earthly languages?
10 Unquestionably, the resurrected glorified 144,000 will all speak but one heavenly language, the gift of this language being conferred upon them in their new spirit bodies at their resurrection from the dead. This does not mean that their former earthly language will be erased from their minds. No, for it will be by identifying themselves by their former human language that they will be able to recognize themselves as being the same persons. But at their heavenly resurrection they will speak the language of the Lord Jesus Christ, and he will speak the language of his heavenly Father, Jehovah God.
ONE RACE, ONE LANGUAGE
11. Under the millennial kingdom, what will be done about present-day language barriers on earth, and how, and why?
11 Likewise, the present-day language barrier on earth will be removed from mankind under the thousand-year reign of Christ and his 144,000 associate kings. God’s original purpose for the earth was that it should be comfortably filled with human creatures speaking one common language, the language of their first earthly father, the perfect man Adam. In the garden of Eden the human race started out with one language. After the planetary flood of Noah’s day, God gave mankind a fresh righteous start with one language, the language of righteous Noah, the tenth man in line of descent from Adam. That one language continued on down till the attempt at building the Tower of Babel.
12. How will God undo the language effects from the action he took at the Tower of Babel?
12 Then Almighty God broke up the unity of the builders who were combining their efforts in a bad work. How? It was by confusing the language and thus causing them to scatter as language groups to separate parts of the earth. (Genesis 11:1-9) In harmony with His original purpose, God will bring mankind as a whole back to the one family language, the language with which He endowed mankind’s first human father, only with a far larger vocabulary, possibly with embellishments from other languages that God invented at the Tower of Babel.
13. For whom will a temporary language problem thus be produced, but what benefits will result?
13 For those who lived prior to the Flood, including the eight human survivors of that Noachian deluge, this will present no great problem at their resurrection from the dead to life on earth under God’s Millennial kingdom. But for the vast majority of the rest of mankind, it will mean learning a new language, the language God purposes for all humankind. In view of good language instructors used by the Kingdom, there should be no great problem on this account. Even resurrected babies can be taught the new language from infancy. In this way they will all be able to communicate with one another directly, with full understanding of one another’s language terms and expressions. What a unifying effect this will have on the human family! Think of their all being able to read the inspired Hebrew Scriptures,b each one for himself, and to observe how all its prophecies have come true and how it also contains an accurate historical account down to the days of the prophet Malachi! Then the honest-hearted ones will be able to say, as did the apostle Paul: “Let God be found true, though every man be found a liar.”—Romans 3:4.
14. How will present-day interracial, international and intertribal barriers be done away with for those who take part in the first resurrection?
14 As with the language barrier, so with the present-day barriers due to race, nation and tribe. For the 144,000 Kingdom heirs who share in the “first resurrection,” these latter barriers will all be in the past. Those barriers have all attached to the flesh. Their resurrection will not be with the fleshly body that they formerly had here on earth, for it is written: “This I [the apostle Paul] say, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit God’s kingdom, neither does corruption inherit incorruption.” (1 Corinthians 15:50) “Even if we [Christians] have known Christ according to the flesh, certainly we now know him so no more.” (2 Corinthians 5:16) In the “first resurrection” the 144,000 Kingdom heirs come into the “divine nature,” not human nature with all its present-day interracial, international, intertribal barriers. (2 Peter 1:4) They will all be brothers in a special heavenly family, sons of God: “If, then, we are children, we are also heirs: heirs indeed of God, but joint heirs with Christ.” (Romans 8:17) Thus there will be unity among them according to the “divine nature.”
15, 16. (a) How do the 144,000 Kingdom heirs surmount human, earthly obstacles in order to keep unity? (b) They stick to what request made by Jesus in prayer to God in their behalf?
15 However, even during the time of their being here in the flesh under test on the earth, these 144,000 Kingdom heirs have not allowed racial, national and tribal barriers of mankind in general to divide. According to the flesh they are “disciples of people of all the nations.” (Matthew 28:19) But they are Christ’s disciples first, and they consider themselves as being of this or that race, nation and tribe only second. Their being Christ’s baptized disciples unifies them on earth and surmounts all fleshly, human obstacles. That is why they declare themselves and maintain themselves strictly neutral toward the interracial, international, intertribal conflicts of this world and do not take part in politics, local, national or international. They stick to what Jesus Christ requested in prayer to God concerning them:
16 “I make request concerning them; I make request, not concerning the world, but concerning those you have given me; because they are yours . . . I have given your word to them, but the world has hated them, because they are no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world. . . . Also, I have given them the glory that you have given me, in order that they may be one just as we are one. I in union with them and you in union with me, in order that they may be perfected into one, that the world may have the knowledge that you sent me forth and that you loved them just as you loved me.”—John 17:9-23.
INTERNATIONAL PEACEFULNESS OBSERVED
17. (a) How have the 144,000 not imitated the religionists of Christendom and Jewry as to warfare? (b) What Scriptural rule will they as heavenly kings enforce on earth’s people?
17 This is why, on earth, the 144,000 Kingdom heirs have not imitated Roman Catholics in fighting with carnal weapons against Roman Catholics, Orthodox Churchmen against Orthodox Churchmen, Protestants against Protestants and natural Jews against natural Jews, because of living under national governments that are engaged in deadly warfare. They have not gone forth disciple-making with the Gospel message or the Holy Bible in one hand and a sword or machine gun in the other hand. Although from many distinct nations, they have carried out the principle stated in the prophecy of Isaiah 2:4: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” (Authorized or King James Bible Version) And if they have clung to this divine rule when they themselves were on earth, they will enforce it when they are kings over the earth, requiring their subjects on earth to abide by the same peaceful rule.
18. What other international group on earth is abiding by this rule of conduct, as foreseen by the apostle John?
18 As a happy forerunner of this, there is a great international crowd that is now associated with the remnant of those Kingdom heirs and that is abiding by that same peaceful rule of conduct. It is the remarkable group that was foretold as due to gather together in this time in world history, just as the apostle John describes it, saying: “After these things I saw, and, look! a great crowd, which no man was able to number, out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, dressed in white robes; and there were palm branches in their hands. And they keep on crying with a loud voice, saying: ‘Salvation we owe to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb [Jesus Christ].’ . . . ‘These are the ones that come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. That is why they are before the throne of God; and they are rendering him sacred service day and night in his temple; and the One seated on the throne will spread his tent over them.’”—Revelation 7:9-15.
19. God’s new system will start off with people on earth already living in what relationship with one another, and what words of Peter to lovers of long life will they heed?
19 Since Jehovah God spreads his tent of protection over this “great crowd” of today and brings them safely through the approaching “great tribulation,” those who enter alive into God’s new system of things over the earth will be a peaceful international crowd. The war-making nations will then be gone! Human society in God’s new order will start off with a “great crowd” of tribulation survivors all of whom are at peace with one another already. In their love of everlasting life they will continue to act in harmony with the words quoted by the apostle Peter: “He that would love life and see good days, let him restrain his tongue from what is bad and his lips from speaking deception, but let him turn away from what is bad and do what is good; let him seek peace and pursue it.”—1 Peter 3:10, 11; Psalm 34:12-14.
20. (a) In order to fulfill what Bible prophecy concerning him, will Christ not let that peace be disturbed? (b) How will Christ’s reign be like that of Solomon?
20 After the storm of the “great tribulation,” earth-wide peace like a rainbow will be radiant over the cleansed planet. Jehovah’s millennial King, the Lamb Jesus Christ, will not permit that peace to be disturbed. Otherwise, he would not be living up to the prophecy long ago pronounced concerning him: “There has been a child born to us, there has been a son given to us; and the princely rule will come to be upon his shoulder. And his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. To the abundance of the princely rule and to peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and upon his kingdom in order to establish it firmly and to sustain it by means of justice and by means of righteousness, from now on and to time indefinite. The very zeal of Jehovah of armies will do this.” (Isaiah 9:6, 7) Let us remember that Jesus Christ is “something more than Solomon.” (Matthew 12:42) The forty-year reign of King Solomon, the son of David, was marked by peace, in accordance with the very name Solomon, which means “Peaceable.” Jesus Christ, though, will maintain a peace of a thousand years.
“UPON THE THRONE OF DAVID AND UPON HIS KINGDOM”
21. From whose throne and kingdom can the princely rule of the Prince of Peace not be disconnected, neither its peace?
21 If we read Isaiah 9:6, 7 again, we notice that the “princely rule” of the Prince of Peace is to be “upon the throne of David and upon his kingdom.” We cannot disconnect this promised endless peace from the throne and kingdom of David, who ruled as king in Jerusalem during the years 1070-1037 B.C.E. It is not made dependent upon any president of the United States of America or upon the United Nations as a man-made organization for world peace and security. Why is this so?
22. (a) On what basis would Jehovah’s zeal fulfill that prophecy? (b) As regards religion, what kind of man was David?
22 It is because of an unbreakable covenant or divine promise that “Jehovah of armies” made respecting King David at Jerusalem early in his reign there. On what basis? Well, David was no atheist, no agnostic. He was a very religious man, but not like the idol worshipers or polytheists of the non-Israelite nations of his time. Read for yourself the many psalms or lyrical poems composed by David and as contained in the Book of Psalms, and you will find that David was a wholehearted worshiper of Jehovah, the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob. In one of his best-known psalms, Psalm 23, David said: “Jehovah is my Shepherd. I shall lack nothing. Surely goodness and loving-kindness themselves will pursue me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of Jehovah to the length of days.” (Psalm 23:1, 6) Also, in Psalm 40:8, 9 he said: “To do your will, O my God, I have delighted, and your law is within my inward parts. I have told the good news of righteousness in the big congregation. Look! My lips I do not restrain. O Jehovah, you yourself know that well.”
23, 24. (a) After bringing the Ark of God’s covenant to Jerusalem, what did David desire to do about its housing? (b) What did Jehovah tell David about building?
23 Some months after King David had made Jerusalem his capital city, he had the sacred Ark of the Covenant, “the ark of the true God,” brought up to Jerusalem and placed in a tent that was pitched near the royal palace. David felt keenly the difference between his palatial residence, “a house of cedars,” and that of Jehovah’s Ark of the Covenant. Finally he suggested to the prophet Nathan the building of a worthy temple for Jehovah’s ark. (2 Samuel 7:1-3) But God sent to David this word:
24 “Blood in great quantity you have spilled, and great wars you have waged. You will not build a house to my name, for a great deal of blood you have spilled on the earth before me. Look! There is a son being born to you. He himself will prove to be a restful man, and I shall certainly give him rest from all his enemies all around; for Solomon is what his name will become, and peace and quietness I shall bestow upon Israel in his days. It is he that will build a house to my name.”—1 Chronicles 22:8-10.
25. In appreciation, what house did Jehovah promise to build for David?
25 This did not mean that Jehovah did not appreciate David’s loving desire to build a house of worship in honor of God’s name. Jehovah did, and to show his appreciation he made a covenant or made a solemn promise to build a house for David, not a literal house of residence but a house of a line of kings in David’s family. By the prophet Nathan this word was sent to King David: “Jehovah has told you that a house is what Jehovah will make for you. . . . And your house and your kingdom will certainly be steadfast to time indefinite before you; your very throne will become one firmly established to time indefinite.”—2 Samuel 7:11-16.
26. In grateful acknowledgment, what did David say in prayer concerning Jehovah’s name and His purpose concerning the “house”?
26 In gratefully acknowledging this divine covenant, David said in prayer: “And now, Jehovah God, the word that you have spoken concerning your servant and concerning his house carry out to time indefinite and do just as you have spoken. And let your own name become great to time indefinite, saying, ‘Jehovah of armies is God over Israel,’ and let the very house of your servant David become firmly established before you. For you, Jehovah of armies the God of Israel, have made a revelation to your servant’s ear, saying, ‘A house I shall build for you.’ That is why your servant has taken heart to pray to you with this prayer. And now, O Sovereign Lord Jehovah, you are the true God; and as for your words, let them prove to be truth, since you promise to your servant this goodness. And now take it upon yourself and bless the house of your servant for it to continue to time indefinite before you; for you yourself, O Sovereign Lord Jehovah, have promised, and due to your blessing let the house of your servant be blessed to time indefinite.”—2 Samuel 7:25-29.
27. To show that he was holding to the Kingdom covenant with David, what did Jehovah say through Isaiah, and later through Ezekiel, to King Zedekiah?
27 The Sovereign Lord Jehovah answered that prayer of David. That is why, over three hundred years later, by his prophet Isaiah, he declared that the zeal of Jehovah of armies would firmly establish the princely rule of the Prince of Peace “upon the throne of David and upon his kingdom” and would sustain it “from now on and to time indefinite.” (Isaiah 9:6, 7) More than a century afterward, when the kingdom of the descendants of David at Jerusalem was about to be destroyed, Jehovah showed that he was holding to his Kingdom covenant with David by declaring that the right to the kingship would not depart from the house of David. Addressing himself to Zedekiah, the last king to sit upon David’s throne at Jerusalem, Jehovah spoke by the prophet Ezekiel and said: “Remove the turban, and lift off the crown. This will not be the same. Put on high even what is low, and bring low even the high one. A ruin, a ruin, a ruin I shall make it. As for this also, it will certainly become no one’s until he comes who has the legal right, and I must give it to him.”—Ezekiel 21:25-27.
28. (a) When was the kingdom of the house of David overthrown, and what office did Zerubbabel hold over Judah seventy years later? (b) What did Zechariah prophesy concerning cleansing David’s house?
28 The throne of David was overthrown at the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 607 B.C.E., and the surviving Jews were exiled to Babylon. Seventy years later a remnant of God-fearing Jews were released from Babylon to return to the land of Judah and to build another temple on the location of the first temple that had been built by King Solomon at Jerusalem. Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, a descendant of King David, was made the governor of Judah and Jerusalem. Jehovah raised up the prophets Haggai and Zechariah to encourage Governor Zerubbabel in the work of rebuilding the temple. Still showing loyalty to the Kingdom covenant with David, Jehovah inspired the prophet Zechariah to say: “In that day there will come to be a well opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for an abhorrent thing.”—Zechariah 13:1.
29. When did Jerusalem and Judah get an Edomite king, and what question might there have been about the Kingdom covenant with David?
29 More than four hundred years passed by and the land of Palestine came under the control of the imperialistic Romans. Under appointment by the Roman Senate, a non-Jewish Edomite called Herod the Great came to be king of Jerusalem and the province of Judea. After all those centuries, had not Jehovah God forgotten all about that covenant with David for an everlasting kingdom, the peace of which was to have no end? All together, more than a thousand years had gone by since God made that covenant, and by now had not the covenant become obsolete, out-of-date, no longer showing any signs of life because of seemingly being in a state of lapse? Faithless men might have thought so. But what about God?
BIRTH OF KING DAVID’S EVERLASTING HEIR
30, 31. (a) What line of descent from King David did Jehovah watch? (b) Whose daughter in the line of descent did Jehovah notice, and to whom did she get engaged to marry?
30 The unforgetting God, the divine Maker of the Kingdom covenant, held himself bound to fulfill his covenant promise to David. He kept watching the male descendants of faithful King David for whom he had promised to build a royal house. He saw one of the lines of descent from David passing, not through King Solomon, but through another of David’s sons, Nathan. This particular line runs on down through twenty others and brings forth Zerubbabel, who became governor of Jerusalem in the days of the prophet Zechariah. Zerubbabel had a son named Rhesa, after whom there was a further unbroken line of descent through sixteen others, after which Heli was born as the son of Matthat. (Luke 3:23-31) Then God took note, not of a male descendant, but of a daughter of Heli. She was born in the city of Bethlehem in the Roman province of Judea during the last half of the first century B.C.E. She was called Mary.
31 In course of time Mary was taken northward to the city of Nazareth in the Roman province of Galilee. There she became of marriageable age, and she was brought into an engagement to marry a carpenter named Joseph the son of Jacob, a resident of Nazareth.
32. Why was that engagement to marry Joseph appropriate, and what question about David’s heir arose?
32 This marriage engagement was very appropriate. Why so? For the reason that Joseph, although a lowly carpenter in the obscure town of Nazareth, was a descendant of King David, not through Nathan, but through David’s first royal successor, Solomon. Thus Joseph had a legal claim to the throne of his royal ancestor David. Was Joseph now to become the direct, natural father of the long-promised everlasting heir of King David?
33, 34. (a) Why did Jehovah give evidence of being with Mary? (b) What now took place worked for fulfillment of what prophecy of Jacob on his deathbed?
33 Well, before the wedding took place and Joseph took Mary away from her home to the home he provided for her as his legally wedded wife, a most unusual thing happened, something that the Brain-Age men of this twentieth century refuse to believe. The time was now about the end of the year 3 B.C.E. It was a marked time for God, for which he had long waited. Suddenly the evidence came to light that God was with Mary the daughter of Heli, not only for the kind of Jewish girl that she was but because she was a descendant of the royal family of David of the tribe of Judah. So what took place was working toward the fulfillment of the inspired prophecy pronounced by the patriarch Jacob over his fourth son, Judah. This was away back in the year 1711 B.C.E., and the dying Jacob said over Judah:
34 “A lion cub Judah is . . . like a lion, who dares rouse him? The scepter will not turn aside from Judah, neither the commander’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh [or, The One Whose It Is] comes; and to him the obedience of the peoples will belong.”—Genesis 49:8-10.
35, 36. (a) What miraculous thing had God done for Elizabeth the aged relative of Mary? (b) What did the angel Gabriel tell Mary of God’s purpose toward David’s throne?
35 How did God show that he was with Mary the virgin girl of the tribe of Judah and of the royal family of David? God did something for Mary that was greater than what he had done for an aged relative of Mary named Elizabeth, the wife of the Levite priest Zechariah. God miraculously revived the reproductive powers of Zechariah and Elizabeth, so that she was now in the sixth month of her pregnancy and was soon to give birth to a son who would come to be called John the Baptist. But what did God do for the virgin Jewess Mary, whose time of betrothal to the carpenter Joseph was not yet full? The medical doctor Luke tells us:
36 “In her sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent forth from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin promised in marriage to a man named Joseph of David’s house; and the name of the virgin was Mary. And when he went in before her he said: ‘Good day, highly favored one, Jehovah is with you.’ But she was deeply disturbed at the saying and began to reason out what sort of greeting this might be. So the angel said to her: ‘Have no fear, Mary, for you have found favor with God; and, look! you will conceive in your womb and give birth to a son, and you are to call his name Jesus. This one will be great and will be called Son of the Most High; and Jehovah God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule as king over the house of Jacob forever, and there will be no end of his kingdom.’”—Luke 1:26-33.
37. How did Gabriel explain Mary’s bearing a son without a human father?
37 This meant that Mary’s intended husband Joseph was not to be the direct natural father of Jesus! What? A birth of a son without a human father? To explain to her how this miraculous virgin birth would come to be, the angel Gabriel went on to say: “Holy spirit will come upon you, and power of the Most High will overshadow you. For that reason also what is born will be called holy, God’s Son. And, look! Elizabeth your relative has also herself conceived a son, in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her, the so-called barren woman; because with God no declaration will be an impossibility.”—Luke 1:34-37.
38. What now took place with Mary, and of whom was her child to be the Son?
38 Did Mary consent to become in this way the earthly mother of the one who was to be the everlasting and permanent heir of King David? Luke 1:38 tells us: “Then Mary said: ‘Look! Jehovah’s slave girl! May it take place with me according to your declaration.’ At that the angel departed from her.” Thereafter holy spirit did come upon Mary, and power of the Most High God did overshadow her. So she became pregnant miraculously, not by her intended husband Joseph. This meant that Jehovah God the Most High was the Father of the child Jesus now conceived in her. Other inspired scriptures explain that Jehovah God transferred the life of His beloved heavenly only-begotten Son to an egg cell in Mary and made her fruitful. (John 3:16; Philippians 2:5-11) There was nothing unholy about this. That is why “what is born will be called holy, God’s Son.” This all occurred at God’s fixed time, just as it is written: “When the full limit of the time arrived, God sent forth his Son, who came to be out of a woman and who came to be under law [the Mosaic law].”—Galatians 4:4.
THE PERMANENT HEIR OF THE KINGDOM COVENANT
39. (a) Who was to make Mary’s son Jesus king over the house of Jacob? (b) What kind of right did Jesus inherit through Mary?
39 What the angel Gabriel told Mary made certain that her son Jesus was to be the Permanent Heir of King David: “Jehovah God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule as king over the house of Jacob forever, and there will be no end of his kingdom.” (Luke 1:32, 33) Not the Jews of nineteen centuries ago nor the natural Jews of today were to give this Jesus the throne of his forefather David. The heavenly Father, Jehovah God, was to give him that throne of the Kingdom, which, in David’s case, was only “over the house of Jacob,” the patriarchal father of the twelve tribes of Israel. So by means of the virgin Jewess Mary her firstborn son was born into the royal family of David, and by her Jesus had a fleshly natural right to David’s kingdom. In proof of this fact the apostle Paul was inspired to write about the good news from God: “Concerning his Son, who sprang from the seed of David according to the flesh, but who with power was declared God’s Son according to the spirit of holiness by means of resurrection from the dead—yes, Jesus Christ our Lord.”—Romans 1:1-4.
40. (a) What did Joseph feel obligated toward God to do respecting Mary’s son Jesus, thus conferring what upon Jesus? (b) Whose son does Luke call Joseph, and why?
40 After Mary’s pregnancy was discovered, her intended husband was given an explanation and told to take Mary as his wife to his home for her. Joseph did so, there at Nazareth. He realized his obligation toward God to adopt God’s Son by Mary as his own firstborn son and thereby give Jesus the legal right to David’s throne, forasmuch as Joseph was a descendant of David through King Solomon.c (2 Samuel 7:13-16) This is what Joseph did by having Jesus circumcised on the eighth day of his birth and calling his name Jesus and also by presenting the babe Jesus on the fortieth day of his birth in purification rites for himself and Mary at the temple in Jerusalem. (Matthew 1:17-25; Luke 2:21-24) This is why he was called “the son of Joseph.” (John 1:45; 6:42) This is why, too, in Doctor Luke’s genealogy of Jesus Christ he says: “Furthermore, Jesus himself, when he commenced his work, was about thirty years old, being the son, as the opinion was, of Joseph, son of Heli.” (Luke 3:23) Joseph, who was really the son of Jacob, was also called the “son of Heli” because he had married Heli’s daughter Mary and so was Heli’s son-in-law.
41. Where was the one called “Jesus of Nazareth” born in 2 B.C.E.?
41 Jesus Christ was later called “Jesus of Nazareth” and “Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.” (John 19:19, AV; Matthew 21:11) Does this mean that Jesus was born in Nazareth? No, for before his birth his mother Mary and her husband Joseph, because of both of them being born in Bethlehem of Judah, were obliged to move down to Bethlehem in the year 2 B.C.E. for registration purposes under the decree of the Roman emperor, Caesar Augustus. Jesus thus came to be born in Bethlehem, which was called “the city of David,” because David the son of Jesse himself had been born there.—Luke 2:1-7, AV.
42, 43. What angelic testimony besides that of Gabriel do we have to the effect that Mary’s son was to be God’s Messiah?
42 We have more than the testimony of the angel Gabriel that this Jesus the son of Mary was to be the Messiah or Christ, the Anointed One who was to be the permanent inheritor of the throne and kingdom of David. We have the testimony of another heavenly angel on the night of Jesus’ birth about the beginning of October, 2 B.C.E. This glorious angel appeared to shepherds who still had their flocks out in the fields near Bethlehem at that time of the year.
43 To the frightened shepherds the angel said: “Have no fear, for, look! I am declaring to you good news of a great joy that all the people will have, because there was born to you today a Savior, who is Christ the Lord, in David’s city. And this is a sign for you: you will find an infant bound in cloth bands and lying in a manger.” That this was no ordinary birth was shown by what then happened: “And suddenly there came to be with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army, praising God and saying: ‘Glory in the heights above to God, and upon earth peace among men of goodwill.’”—Luke 2:8-14.
44. Why was the child Jesus taken down to Egypt, and how is it that he became a carpenter in Nazareth?
44 Satan the Devil became aware of the birth of this Son of God who was to become “Christ the Lord.” Jealous over his own rulership of this world, Satan the Devil tried to have the young child Jesus killed sometime after his being presented at the temple in Jerusalem, and this by the hand of suspicious King Herod the Great. So God’s angel told Joseph to flee with the mother and child down to Egypt until further notice. After King Herod’s death God’s angel told Joseph to return to the land of his people. But, because King Herod’s son Archelaus was ruling over the Roman province of Judea, including Bethlehem, Joseph bypassed Bethlehem and returned to Nazareth in the province of Galilee. There Jesus was brought up and came to be called a Nazarene. There this future King worked as a carpenter.—Matthew 2:1-23; 13:55; Mark 6:1-3.
45. To become really the Messiah or Christ, what did Jesus, like David, need to have? (b) When and why did Jesus go to the Jordan River to be baptized?
45 However, the word Christ or Messiah, meaning Anointed One, could not really apply to Jesus until he actually became anointed. His ancestor, the shepherd David of Bethlehem, had been anointed by God’s prophet Samuel many years before he actually was enthroned as king in Israel. (1 Samuel 16:1-13; 2 Samuel 2:1-4; 5:1-3) It went similarly with Jesus. In his thirtieth year as a perfect human being, his relative, John the Baptist, began his baptismal work because he then started announcing God’s kingdom, saying: “Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.” (Matthew 3:1, 2) From this announcement Jesus knew that the time had come for him to apply himself exclusively to the interests of God’s Messianic kingdom. As he neared the end of his thirtieth year of human life he left Nazareth and made his way to John, who was baptizing people in the Jordan River. Why? Not to be baptized as a symbol of repentance over sins, of which he had none, but to symbolize his presenting of himself completely to Jehovah God in order to do the divine will in connection with the “kingdom of the heavens,” the kingdom of God. John did not understand this. Hence we read:
46. (a) How did Jesus there at his baptism become the Messiah or Christ? (b) Why did God there call the baptized Jesus his Son?
46 “Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, in order to be baptized by him. But the latter tried to prevent him, saying: ‘I am the one needing to be baptized by you, and are you coming to me?’ In reply Jesus said to him: ‘Let it be, this time, for in that way it is suitable for us to carry out all that is righteous.’ Then he quit preventing him. After being baptized Jesus immediately came up from the water; and, look! the heavens were opened up, and he saw descending like a dove God’s spirit coming upon him. Look! Also, there was a voice from the heavens that said: ‘This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved.’” (Matthew 3:13-17) By that descent of God’s spirit upon the baptized Jesus he was anointed, anointed not by John the Baptist, but by God. In this way he became the Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed One. This was in early autumn of the year 29 C.E. God also pronounced him then his Son, because now by His spirit he had begotten Jesus to be his spiritual Son. (John 1:32-34) He was now a spiritual Messiah or Christ, higher than a human Messiah.
47. What opportunities to become a mere human Messiah did Jesus refuse, and what work did he take up in accord with his anointing?
47 Did Jesus Christ now try to make himself an earthly king “over the house of Jacob,” at Jerusalem? No! In the wilderness of temptation, he refused an offer by Satan the Devil to make him the king, not merely over the house of Jacob, but over all the kingdoms of this world. (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13) Later, after performing a marvelous miracle of feeding a multitude, he withdrew from an attempt by thousands of well-fed Jews to make him their earthly king. (John 6:1-15) He knew that his kingdom was to come from the One who had anointed him to be Messianic King, Jehovah God. Appreciating the preliminary work that his being anointed with God’s spirit entailed upon him, Jesus Christ took up the peaceful work of teaching and preaching God’s kingdom throughout the land of the “house of Jacob.” Especially so after the imprisonment of John the Baptist in the year 30 C.E.
48. In the synagogue of Nazareth, what prophecy of Isaiah did he read to the Nazarenes, and what did he endeavor to do for the rest of his earthly life?
48 In the synagogue at Nazareth he read to the Nazarenes the prophecy of Isaiah 61:1, 2, saying: “Jehovah’s spirit is upon me, because he anointed me to declare good news to the poor, he sent me forth to preach a release to the captives and a recovery of sight to the blind, to send the crushed ones away with a release, to preach Jehovah’s acceptable year.” With that as the theme for his sermon, the baptized Jesus began by saying: “Today this scripture that you just heard is fulfilled.” (Luke 4:16-21) By this he was giving his former townspeople to understand that he was Jehovah’s Anointed One, the Messiah, the Christ. During all the rest of his earthly life he made it his endeavor to fulfill what his anointing with Jehovah’s spirit authorized, commissioned him to do.
49, 50. (a) Did Jesus form an army to reestablish the kingdom of Israel? (b) What explanation did Jesus give to Pilate for being a king and yet not fighting for a kingdom?
49 Consequently, he did not meddle in the politics of this world or form an army like the Maccabees and drive out the Romans from the land and reestablish the kingdom of David at Jerusalem. Why not?
50 The reason for not doing so he explained to the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, to whom he had been handed over by his religious enemies to be executed as a seditionist against the Roman Empire. In answer to the governor’s question, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus finally said: “My kingdom is no part of this world. If my kingdom were part of this world, my attendants would have fought that I should not be delivered up to the Jews. But, as it is, my kingdom is not from this source.” At this Pilate said: “Well, then, are you a king?” Bearing witness to the truth, Jesus answered: “You yourself are saying that I am a king.” Yes, king of a kingdom that is no part of the world to which the Roman Empire was then the world power.—John 18:33-37.
51, 52. (a) What did Jesus instruct his “attendants” to do? (b) Did Jesus tell the twelve apostles and then the seventy evangelizers to carry on political activities or evangelical work, and how?
51 Jesus’ words, “my attendants,” meant whom? Why, his unarmed disciples, including his twelve apostles (“sent-forth ones”). These too he instructed to refrain from the politics of this world and its violent combats and to specialize on teaching and preaching peaceably the good news of the promised kingdom of God.
52 When he sent forth the twelve apostles on one occasion, he did not tell them to organize an underground political movement and stir up insurrection among the Jews; but he said: “As you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.’ Cure sick people, raise up dead persons, make lepers clean, expel demons. You received free, give free.” (Matthew 10:1-8) When Jesus later sent out seventy other evangelizers he gave them similar instructions and told them what to preach, saying: “Also, wherever you enter into a city and they receive you, eat the things set before you, and cure the sick ones in it, and go on telling them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’”—Luke 10:1-9.
53, 54. (a) In his prophecy on his presence and the conclusion of this system, what preaching did Jesus foretell? (b) Carrying on this preaching allows for no meddling in what, as they know that the government they preach is of what source?
53 On Nisan 11 of the year 33 C.E., just before his death on Passover Day, Jesus gave his remarkable prophecy concerning his future presence and the conclusion of the system of things. In this prophecy he did not fail to foretell the outstanding work that his attendants, his disciples, should do, for he said: “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.” (Matthew 24:3-14) Before the complete end of this system of things this Kingdom-preaching world wide must be done by his disciples: “Also, in all the nations the good news has to be preached first.” (Mark 13:10) Their doing this Kingdom-preaching peacefully among all nations did not allow for them to meddle in worldly politics and take sides in international conflicts.
54 Like their Leader Jesus Christ, they were merely to preach the good news of God’s Messianic kingdom. They were not authorized and empowered to set up that kingdom over the earth. It was not to be an earthly government; it was “not from this source.” It was a heavenly government with superhuman power over all mankind. Naturally, then, only the Most High God of heaven could set up that Messianic government over all the inhabitants of the earth.
55. As far as concerns carrying out his anointing and fulfilling Bible prophecies, can objections be raised as to Jesus’ being qualified to rule all mankind?
55 Who, then, in heaven or on earth, can find fault with the earthly life of the Messiah, the Christ, the one anointed to rule as king over all mankind for a thousand years? Who can rightfully object to his becoming the Millennial King as if he were not worthy or qualified? No one can. Pointing to the faultless life of Jesus Christ on earth, the apostle Peter said to the Roman centurion Cornelius and his Gentile friends: “You know the subject that was talked about throughout the whole of Judea, starting from Galilee after the baptism that John preached, namely, Jesus who was from Nazareth, how God anointed him with holy spirit and power, and he went through the land doing good and healing all those oppressed by the Devil; because God was with him. And we are witnesses of all the things he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem.” (Acts 10:37-39) All the testimony is to the effect that Jesus Christ on earth fulfilled all that he was commissioned by his anointing to do. He fulfilled all the Bible prophecies concerning him, even down to a martyr’s death.
a Compare Isaiah 1:14; 7:13; 43:24.
b This does not mean, however, that the one universal language of God’s new order of things will be printed and written in the present-day square style Hebrew alphabetic letters. Even today there are extant Hebrew publications that are spelled out in the Latin style alphabetic letters used in the English language. For example, the textbook Taryag Millim, published in South Africa in 1949; the biography Avi, printed in Jerusalem in 1927; also parts of the newspaper Deror, which was published in Tel Aviv in 1933-1934.
c If Joseph of the royal lineage of King David had wanted to wait to bestow the “legal right” to the Davidic throne upon a direct natural son of his, such as James, Joseph (II), Simon or Judas, this legal claim would not have taken effect. (Ezekiel 21:27) Why not? Because Joseph was a descendant of King Solomon through Jeconiah (or Coniah, or Jehoiachin), concerning whom we read, in Jeremiah 22:24-30: “‘As I am alive,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘even if Coniah the son of Jehoiakim, the king of Judah, happened to be the seal ring on my right hand, from there I would pull you off!’ . . .This is what Jehovah has said, ‘Write down this man as childless [as regards heirship to David’s throne], as an able-bodied man who will not have any success in his days; for from his offspring not a single one will have any success, sitting upon the throne of David and ruling anymore in Judah.’” (Matthew 1:11-16; 13:55) Consequently, Joseph’s conferring the legal title upon his adopted son Jesus would not be in vain, inasmuch as Jesus the son of Mary the virgin became no natural descendant of Jeconiah (Coniah), but descended from King David through the line of his son Nathan the son of Bath-sheba. Hence, Jesus’ genealogy as recorded in Luke 3:23-38 does not list the name of Jeconiah (Coniah, or Jehoiachin).