The God-fearing King of the Spiritual Paradise
1. As to those counted worthy to dwell in the spiritual paradise today, what do we learn from the expulsion of Adam and Eve from Eden?
WHEN our first parents, Eve and Adam, disobediently ate the forbidden fruit, God sentenced them to death and drove them out of the Garden of Eden. The Paradise of Pleasure was no place for rebels against the Planter and Owner of the garden. (Genesis 2:8 through 3:24) This set the pattern regarding those whom Jehovah God counts worthy to dwell in the spiritual paradise today.
2. (a) How do the attitude and conduct of other people affect one’s enjoyment of life, even in surroundings that are beautiful to the eye? (b) So what elements does Jehovah exclude from the spiritual paradise?
2 A person’s natural environment might be ever so much like a paradise, yet if one’s neighbors on all sides were self-seeking, lawless, vicious, godless people, it would not be a pleasant place in which to live. People like that could make life miserable, insecure, and unfavorable to spirituality and godliness. Life on earth today, with its increasing rate of crime, has become like that, even in suburban areas that the residents try to keep looking beautiful to the eye. Jehovah God kept the original paradise of mankind clean of such an undesirable human element. Today he keeps the spiritual paradise of the remnant of spiritual Israel and their sheeplike Christian companions free of such harmful, ruinous human elements.
3. (a) From what backgrounds do the residents of the spiritual paradise come? (b) Consequently, what changes are required in them?
3 The approved residents of the spiritual paradise, regardless of whether they are of the remnant of spiritual Israel or of the “great crowd” of sheeplike companions, are drawn from people of all races, nationalities, colors and languages, naturally. (Revelation 5:9, 10; 7:9, 10) As natural descendants of Adam and Eve, they have inherited imperfection and sinfulness. They have cultivated various attitudes and dispositions according to the circumstances under which they were born and brought up and morally influenced. In that condition the message of God’s Messianic kingdom found them and was preached to them. (Matthew 24:14) Consequently, for people of such widely different types to live together peacefully and lovingly in a spiritual paradise, it would first require an amazing transformation of personalities, to make the residents of the paradise homogeneous, like-minded, of like disposition. To bring this about would call for more than a mere human influence. It would need the irresistible spirit of God.
4, 5. (a) To bring about such a transformation would require what kind of ruler? (b) In what Biblical prophecy is this ruler foretold, and how does the apostle Paul identify him?
4 Very vital to the transformation of personalities for life in the spiritual paradise on earth would be a ruler who himself had the spirit of Jehovah God and who delighted in imparting that spirit to his subjects in Paradise. Necessarily, this Paradise ruler has to be a heavenly, superhuman ruler, under whom all the Paradise residents would willingly unite according to God’s will. Such a heavenly spirit ruler the Almighty God has already provided, in fulfillment of the inspired prophecy of Isaiah 11:1-10. The prophecy, recorded three hundred years after the successful reign of King David the son of Jesse of Bethlehem, points to the source from which this spirit-filled ruler would come. The Christian apostle Paul leaves no question as to who that ruler is, when, at the climax of his argument, he quotes the prophecy of Isaiah 11:10, saying to the mixed congregation of Jews and Gentiles in Rome:
5 “That with one accord you may with one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another, just as the Christ also welcomed us, with glory to God in view. For I say that Christ actually became a minister . . . that the nations might glorify God for his mercy. Just as it is written: . . . And again Isaiah says: ‘There will be the root of Jesse, and there will be one arising to rule nations; on him nations will rest their hope.’”—Romans 15:6-12; Isaiah 11:10, LXX.
6, 7. (a) As indicated in the prophecy, of whom was Jesus a descendant? (b) When Jesus Christ came on the earthly scene, how were the majority of the Jews inclined to view him? (c) How had the prophet Isaiah indicated that, from a worldly view, the Messiah would not be impressive-looking?
6 Because of his descent from King David the son of Jesse, who belonged to the tribe of Judah, Jesus Christ was also a descendant of this Jesse of Bethlehem-Judah. (Matthew 1:1-6; 2:4-6; Micah 5:2) However, Jesus Christ came on the earthly scene more than six hundred years after the overthrow of the kingdom of David at Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 607 B.C.E., and at that time the vast majority of the Jews were not inclined to think that he was the Messiah, the foretold Anointed One through whom all the nations would be blessed eternally. To those unbelieving Jews he seemed to be a very unlikely prospect for kingship in the Messianic kingdom of God. He was not very impressive-looking according to their worldly view. But the very prophecy of Isaiah indicated that this would be so. In comparison with the haughty, pretentious-looking rulers of the earth, he appeared to be very unpromising. So, in order to point up this lopsided comparison, the opening verse of Isaiah, chapter eleven verse 1, is preceded by these final two verses of chapter ten:
7 “Look! The true Lord, Jehovah of armies, is lopping off boughs with a terrible crash; and those tall in growth are being cut down, and the high ones themselves become low. And he has struck down the thickets of the forest with an iron tool, and by a powerful one Lebanon itself will fall.”—Isaiah 10:33, 34.
8. (a) There in Isaiah 10:33, 34, who is likened to the massive trees of Lebanon? (b) How did it prove true that “by a powerful one Lebanon itself” fell
8 In Isaiah’s day the Assyrian World Power was the greatest worldly threat to Jerusalem and the reigning line of kings that descended from David the son of Jesse. Apparently, then, the prophecy of Isaiah was comparing the Assyrian king and his mighty military forces to the massive trees of the mountains of Lebanon. When, during Isaiah’s lifetime, King Sennacherib of Assyria and his terrifying armies were devastating the land of Judah, even the royal city of Jerusalem seemed to be within his grasp as a prize. At this crisis the Almighty and Most High God took action. By means of a “powerful one,” a heavenly angel, Jehovah put to sleep in death 185,000 of Sennacherib’s troops in one night. Down Assyria’s “boughs” came with a crash as if the evergreen forest of Mount Lebanon were falling, and the humiliated Assyrian king Sennacherib was obliged to flee home, with a violent death in view in course of time.—Isaiah 37:33-38.
9. By means of whom was the Davidic line of kings cut down, and, as a result, in time, what questions pressed for answer?
9 Not by the Assyrians, therefore, but by the later Babylonian conquest of the land of Judah in 607 B.C.E., the reigning line of the successors of King David became like the stump of a tree that had been cut down. As the centuries passed over that symbolic tree stump, the questions became more and more urgent: Will anything ever come of that tree stump again? Will that royal tree ever grow again as the prophecies inspired by God indicated? Has the royal scepter at last turned aside from the tribe of Judah for all time to come? (Genesis 49:10) Has the kingdom, for which God made a covenant with David, proved to be only long-lasting, but not eternal, not endless? (2 Samuel 7:8-16) Isaiah’s prophecy, Isa chapter eleven, gave an infallible response.
THE KING UPON WHOM JEHOVAH’S SPIRIT SETTLES DOWN
10, 11. What did the prophet Isaiah say about a certain “twig,” and why was it nothing to be despised because of its smallness?
10 In God’s arrangement, the day of small things is not to be despised; and the humble beginning of the true Messiah was not to be viewed as having no great possibilities. Just as the rulers “tall in growth” of the Assyrian World Power were chopped down to the ground, so the Almighty God could make a small one, lowly in growth, become a lofty one and bear much fruit. What is a small twig or tiny sprout compared to a massive cedar on a mountain of Lebanon? It is most insignificant; and yet Isaiah 11:1, 2 proceeds to say:
11 “And there must go forth a twig out of the stump of Jesse; and out of his roots a sprout will be fruitful. And upon him the spirit of Jehovah must settle down, the spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the spirit of counsel and of mightiness, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Jehovah.”
12. (a) Who is pictured by the “twig” and the “sprout”? (b) In Isaiah’s day, what was the condition of the royal tree with its roots in Jesse, but what happened to it in 607 B.C.E.?
12 That the “twig” and the “sprout” represent one and the same thing and that they represent a person is evident from the fact that the prophecy states that “upon him the spirit of Jehovah must settle down.” The “twig” and the “sprout” from the same source picture a king anointed with the spirit of Jehovah God, hence the Messiah. In the prophet Isaiah’s day the royal tree with its roots in Jesse the father of King David had not yet been cut down, with only a stump and its roots left in the ground. That royal tree was made up of the line of kings in the royal family of David and it stood until the year 607 B.C.E. Then it was chopped down by the Babylonians when they deported the king to Babylon and destroyed his royal city, Jerusalem. Then the divine command to that last reigning Davidic king, Zedekiah, was carried out under force of circumstances: “Remove the turban, and lift off the crown. This will not be the same. Put on high even what is low [the series of Gentile world powers, one after another], and bring low even the high one [the Messianic kingdom in David’s family line]. 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.
13. Did Zerubbabel, in 537 B.C.E., fulfill the prophecy concerning the “twig” and the “sprout”?
13 When, in 537 B.C.E., the Persian conqueror of Babylon, Cyrus the Great, restored the exiled Jews to the land of Judah, Zerubbabel of the royal line of David was not crowned and installed upon a regal throne at rebuilt Jerusalem. King Cyrus made him merely the governor of the Persian province of Judah. (Luke 3:27-32; Matthew 1:6-13) Hence, Zerubbabel was not the one with the legal right to whom the kingdom, with its royal turban and crown, was given. He did not fulfill the prophecy concerning the “twig” and the “sprout” that sprang from the stump and roots of Jesse.
14. (a) When did the “twig” and “sprout” go forth and become fruitful, and how so? (b) Shortly afterward, what did Nathanael say regarding the office to which Jesus had been anointed?
14 When, and in the person of whom, did the “twig” and “sprout” go forth and become fruitful? This was more than half a millennium after Zerubbabel, in the year 29 of our Common Era and during the reign of the Roman emperor Tiberius Caesar. In early autumn of that year a royal descendant of David, namely, Jesus the son of Mary of Bethlehem was baptized in the Jordan River by John the Baptist. It was then that this Jesus became a spiritual Son of God, for then God’s spirit descended upon him and God’s voice was heard from heaven, saying: “This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved.” (Matthew 3:13-17) In this way Jesus was not only begotten by God’s spirit to be a spiritual Son of God but also anointed with God’s spirit to be the King-Designate in the royal line of David. In recognition of this fact, just about two months after this, Nathanael, as a prospective disciple of Jesus the Messiah, said to him: “Rabbi, you are the Son of God, you are King of Israel.”—John 1:29-49.
15. (a) Toward the end of Jesus’ earthly life, whom did Peter say that he discerned Jesus to be? (b) The “twig” or “sprout” that had appeared in 29 C.E. became a full-grown tree in what year, and what happened at that time?
15 In the last year of his thirty-three and a half years as a man on earth, Jesus asked his twelve apostles as to whom they had discerned him to be. Simon Peter promptly responded: “You are the Messiah, the son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:13-16; Mark 8:27-30; Luke 9:18-21, Byington) So Peter called Jesus “God’s Messiah.” Those speaking Greek called him “The Christ of God.” As the newly appointed Messiah or Christ, this Jesus was the symbolic “twig out of the stump of Jesse” and the symbolic “sprout” that shot forth from the roots of Jesse by way of the “stump.” Still that “stump” continued without a trunk for many centuries longer, till early autumn of 1914 C.E., and then that “twig” or “sprout” really became a full-grown fruit-bearing tree, a reigning King, the reigning Messiah. That was because the Gentile Times ended then and the time for a reversal of things arrived. The series of Gentile world powers that had been “put on high” in 607 B.C.E. must again become low, whereas the Messianic kingdom in the royal line of David that had been ‘brought low’ must once more become “the high one.”—Luke 21:24, Authorized Version.
16. (a) From the time of Jesus’ being anointed, what qualities were imparted to him by Jehovah’s spirit? (b) Had like qualities been imparted prior to this to any human by means of God’s spirit?
16 From the time of Jesus’ being anointed after his water baptism, the spirit of Jehovah did indeed settle down upon him. It did prove to be the “spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the spirit of counsel and of mightiness, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Jehovah.” (Isaiah 11:2) Those qualities that were imparted to Jesus Christ by the spirit of Jehovah correspond with the qualities imparted to the constructor of the sacred tent of meeting in the days of the prophet Moses. We note this fact from Exodus 31:1-3: “And Jehovah continued to speak to Moses, saying: ‘See, I do call by name Bezalel the son of Uri the son of Hur of the tribe of Judah. And I shall fill him with the spirit of God in wisdom and in understanding and in knowledge and in every kind of craftsmanship.’” (Also, Exodus 35:31; see Zion’s Watch Tower, under date of November 15, 1907, pages 349, 350.) Now if Bezalel the constructor of the sacred tabernacle of worship needed God’s spirit in wisdom, understanding, knowledge and craftsmanship, most certainly Jesus the Messiah would need those same qualities in his more responsible office of King.
17. In the operation of God’s spirit on David and on Jesus following their individual anointings, what parallel do you observe?
17 We remember that, after the prophet Samuel anointed the shepherd boy David of Bethlehem to be the king-designate of Israel, then, as 1 Samuel 16:13 informs us, “the spirit of Jehovah began to be operative upon David from that day forward.” Similarly, after Jesus’ anointing with God’s active force at the Jordan River, God’s spirit specially became operative upon him.
18. Give examples showing that, in what Jesus did, there was evidence that special wisdom, understanding and knowledge had been imparted to him by God’s spirit.
18 “Now Jesus, full of holy spirit, turned away from the Jordan, and he was led about by the spirit in the wilderness for forty days, while being tempted by the Devil. Furthermore, he ate nothing in those days.” With the wisdom, understanding and knowledge imparted to him by God’s spirit, Jesus successfully resisted the propositions presented to him by the Devil as temptations. “Now Jesus returned in the power of the spirit into Galilee. And good talk concerning him spread out through all the surrounding country. Also, he began to teach in their synagogues, being held in honor by all.” (Luke 4:1-15) In the synagogue of Nazareth, his former associates marveled at his speech and asked: “Where did this man get this wisdom and these powerful works? Is this not the carpenter’s son?” (Matthew 13:53-55; Mark 6:1-3) Jesus’ special abilities were now his because, as he had earlier told them, God had anointed him with holy spirit to be Messiah.—Luke 4:16-22.
19. (a) How did the apostles Peter and Paul further emphasize the effect of God’s spirit upon his Son? (b) So, as a result of the operation of God’s spirit, what has become of the one who used to be an unimpressive “twig”?
19 Years after the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ to heaven, the apostle Peter emphasized the effect of God’s spirit upon his Son by saying: “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.” (Acts 10:38) The apostle Paul wrote with reference to the glorified Jesus Christ in heaven, when he said: “It is due to [God] that you are in union with Christ Jesus, who has become to us wisdom from God.” (1 Corinthians 1:29, 30) The philosophies of the so-called wise men of our much vaunted Brain Age are not to be compared with the intellectual powers of the glorified Jesus Christ, for “carefully concealed in him are all the treasures of wisdom and of knowledge.” (Colossians 2:3, 8) So, due to the spirit of the All-wise God upon him, the one who began on earth as an unimpressive “twig out of the stump of Jesse” has become the Messianic King superior to all past earthly rulers inside and outside of Israel.
20, 21. The anointed followers of Jesus Christ are also spoken of as a “sprout”—of whom?
20 In God’s eyes, it all depends upon that of which one is a “twig” or “sprout” as to whether one is of importance and value or not. The fact that Jehovah’s Servant was a “sprout” out of the roots of Jesse of Bethlehem was of vital importance to God. Of whom is one a “sprout”? The answer to this question is what determines matters. This is so in the case of the footstep followers of the anointed Servant.
21 Because the Servant and his disciples are members of God’s universal organization, his figurative “woman” or “wife,” God says to her with reference to her members, these disciples: “And as for your people, all of them will be righteous; to time indefinite they will hold possession of the land, the sprout [neʹtser] of my planting, the work of my hands, for me to be beautified. The little one himself [like a sprout] will become a thousand, and the small one a mighty nation. I myself, Jehovah, shall speed it up in its own time.” (Isaiah 60:21, 22) For this reason neither the Servant nor his faithful disciples turn out to be a “detested sprout,” like the last dynasty of kings of ancient Babylon.—Isaiah 14:19.
22. How can we be sure that the Messianic King will not be an irresponsible ruler, acting as if he were not accountable to anyone higher?
22 This Messianic King will not act like an irresponsible ruler over the human family, over whom he is appointed to reign for a thousand years after the binding and abyssing of Satan the Devil and his demons. (Revelation 20:1-6) The spirit that has settled down upon the King operates against a ruling by him as though he were not accountable to anyone higher. The spirit upon him is not only that of wisdom, understanding, counsel and mightiness, but that of knowledge and “of the fear of Jehovah.” He fears Jehovah, and such fear will control in the exercise of his Messianic rulership.
23. How does he personally view this “fear of Jehovah”?
23 This “fear of Jehovah” is not a bothersome thing to the King, interfering with his free, unrestrained action as King. He enjoys having such fear, and it is a pleasure for him also to see such “fear of Jehovah” in the hearts of his subjects. Isaiah’s prophecy goes on to say: “And there will be enjoyment by him in the fear of Jehovah.” (Isaiah 11:3) Byington’s translation reads: “And he will scent by fear of Jehovah.” The Jerusalem Bible reads: “The fear of Yahweh is his breath.” Rotherham’s translation reads: “So will he find fragrance [draw breath] in the reverence of Yahweh.”—Margin.
A JUDGE WHO DELIVERS THE OPPRESSED
24, 25. As further described by Isaiah, what kind of judge does the Messianic King prove to be?
24 A judge who renders his decisions in the fear of Jehovah God can be depended on to see that justice is done. Righteously disposed people of the whole earth have been waiting and longing for such a judge. That is the kind of judge that Jehovah’s Messianic King proves to be. After telling of the King’s “fear of Jehovah,” the prophet Isaiah continues on to say:
25 “And he will not judge by any mere appearance to his eyes, nor reprove simply according to the thing heard by his ears. And with righteousness he must judge the lowly ones, and with uprightness he must give reproof in behalf of the meek ones of the earth. And he must strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; and with the spirit of his lips he will put the wicked one to death. And righteousness must prove to be the belt of his hips, and faithfulness the belt of his loins.”—Isaiah 11:3-5.
26. How will the fact that “he will not judge by any mere appearance to his eyes, nor reprove simply according to the thing heard by his ears” assure justice?
26 Think of what the earth will be with a global judge as the one here described, the exalted Jesus Christ! There will be no fooling of him. He will be able to see beneath the surface appearance of things, beneath all pretense. He will not be misguided by deceptive talk, as by the specious arguments of defense attorneys. Mere words will not count with him; the condition of the heart will count, and this he will be able to read. He will not depend upon a petit jury or a grand jury of imperfect men and women to determine the innocence or guilt of the one on trial. He will have that same spirit that operated in the case of the Christian apostle Peter, when he saw through the deceitful appearance and words of the hypocritical Ananias and Sapphira and informed them that they must suffer death for trying to lie to God’s holy spirit.—Acts 5:1-11; compare Matthew 22:15-22.
27. In what way will his judging benefit the “lowly ones” and “the meek ones of the earth”?
27 This Messianic Judge is a Godsend for the “lowly ones” and “meek ones of the earth.” He is not afraid to reprove the oppressor of those who are defenseless under the present system of things. He will refute the justifying arguments of the oppressors and will prove to them where they are wrong and unjust. He will correct matters, set matters the way that they should be. This will be the righteous thing, the upright thing to do, with no unfairness to oppressors. No crime syndicate will flourish under his reign; he will smash organized crime.
28. What are the “rod of his mouth” and the “spirit of his lips” that the Messianic Judge will direct against the wicked ones?
28 The decisions of the Messianic Judge will take effect. They are not something unenforceable, something that can be overruled and annulled by appeal to a high court. (John 5:22-24) What issues out of his mouth in sentence upon the wrongdoer will be like a rod of punishment. It will be executed without fail and without delay. The guilty will feel it. What goes out from between his lips will be like a death-dealing active force against which the wicked ones have no shield. They will die from the operation of that spirit that comes from between his lips as these lips pronounce the death sentence. Wickedness will no longer be permitted; the Messianic King-Judge is not in league with it.
29. How do righteousness and faithfulness prove to be like a belt to him, and with what effect upon his activities?
29 The moral quality that strengthens the Judge upon whom Jehovah’s spirit has settled down is like a belt for his hips or his loins. It is a belt of righteousness, a belt of faithfulness. He has no weakness in the way of unrighteous inclinations. Righteousness according to God’s perfect standard is what dominates him, motivates him. He is faithful to his trust from Jehovah God. He knows no other course but that of faithfulness to Jehovah the Supreme Judge. When he was here on earth as a perfect man, he proved his faithfulness to God even in spite of dying in a most unjust manner. He thus hurled back into the face of the Great False Accuser, Satan, a lie that had long stood against Jehovah’s worshipers. Satan the Devil had insisted that Jehovah’s highest officer, his only-begotten Son, would not prove faithful to God if he were tested to the limit by the Chief Adversary of God and angels and men.—Job 1:1 through 2:5.
30. When the Gentile Times ended, against whom did the Messianic Judge take action first, and with what result?
30 So, instead of going after the weaker wicked ones on earth, “the small fry,” the Messianic Judge went first after the top powerful one of all organized wickedness, Satan the Devil. That was what happened in heaven, immediately after the birth of the Messianic kingdom up there just as soon as the Gentile Times had ended in 1914 C.E. Knowing right where to take action, the installed Messianic King waged war against Satan the Devil and his demon angels. This war ended with the ouster of those wicked ones from the holy heavens. Now the victorious King holds them down to the neighborhood of our earth. Just as soon as the “short period of time” for their restraint here is up, the Messianic King will chain them and imprison them in an abyss away from the vicinity of our earth.—Revelation 12:7-13; 20:1-3.
31. What further action will the King take against all who are outside the spiritual paradise?
31 Since that is the way the God-fearing King treats the devilish ringleaders of all organized wickedness, what logically follows? Well, to make matters complete, the King must put to death on earth those who have hardened themselves in sin and steadfastly stuck to the Devil’s visible organization. In this manner the ungodly human society that is outside the spiritual paradise of Jehovah’s worshipers will feel the blow administered by the “rod” of his judicial mouth. His decree of punishment will be executed upon them. His own intrinsic righteousness will strengthen him, like a belt, to do this. His faithfulness to the God of righteousness will sustain him, like a belt, in doing this.
32. (a) What effect will that action have on those who are now within the spiritual paradise? (b) Even now, what do they personally do to beautify their spiritual paradise?
32 This courageous action against all organized wickedness in heaven and on earth will mean great relief for Jehovah’s worshipers who now enjoy his favor and protection within their spiritual paradise. They are grateful to him for providing such a righteous King over their spiritual paradise. The qualities that are an evidence of the spirit of God that has settled down upon this Messianic King, they seek to cultivate more and more in themselves. Thus they beautify their spiritual paradise.