The Picking Out of Sharers in the World Rule
1. What points about sharers in world rule were once a mystery?
WHO will be the sharers with the glorified Permanent Heir of King David in the promised World Government? How many sharers will there be? And where—here on earth, or up in heaven? Once such questions were a mystery. But no more!
2, 3. Where was John on receiving the Revelation, and why?
2 Toward the end of the first century of our Common Era, King David’s Permanent Heir in the Messianic kingdom, namely, Jesus Christ, disclosed the desired answers. By a miraculous revelation he transmitted from heaven the information to a man here on earth, not at Jerusalem, but on the prison island of Patmos in the Aegean Sea, not far from ancient Ephesus, Asia Minor. Yes, that man was a natural, circumcised Jew. Was that Jew there on that Roman penal island because he had joined the Jewish revolt, in the year 66 C.E., that led to the nation’s destruction by the Roman legions in 70 C.E.? Well, let us have this Jewish prisoner tell us:
3 “I John, your brother and a sharer with you in the tribulation and kingdom and endurance in company with Jesus, came to be in the isle that is called Patmos for [what?] speaking about God and bearing witness to Jesus. By inspiration I came to be in the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a strong voice like that of a trumpet, saying: ‘What you see write in a scroll and send it to the seven congregations, in Ephesus and in Smyrna and in Pergamum and in Thyatira and in Sardis and in Philadelphia and in Laodicea.’”—Revelation 1:9-11.
4, 5. (a) How had John come into relationship with Jesus Christ? (b) In what was John then a sharer with those to whom he wrote?
4 This John, the son of Zebedee, had been a fisherman in the Sea of Galilee, but had left his fishing profession to become a ‘fisher of men,’ one of the twelve apostles of the Messiah Jesus. (Matthew 4:18-22; Luke 5:1-11) So John was a Christianized Jew, a faithful disciple of Jesus as the Messiah, the Christ, the one “anointed” with God’s spirit to be the Messianic King. John had been an eyewitness of the impalement of this Jesus Christ at Calvary, and on the third day thereafter he had seen the resurrected Jesus. On the fortieth day thereafter he and his fellow apostles had seen the resurrected Jesus Christ ascend to heaven, to sit down at the right hand of God, his heavenly Father.
5 Furthermore, John the apostle was there in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost of 33 C.E., when Jehovah God used Jesus as his Chief Agent in pouring out holy spirit upon about one hundred and twenty assembled disciples. (Acts 1:1 through 2:36) So by the time that John wrote down the Revelation in 96 C.E., he had endured tribulation and suffering as a Christian for sixty-three years. John spoke of himself as a “sharer” in the kingdom with his fellow disciples of Christ. How many sharers were there to be in that Kingdom world government? John refers to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus used to love,” and he was favored with this information.—John 13:23; 21:20.
6, 7. (a) On what mountain had John often stood with the Lamb Jesus Christ? (b) How many did John see standing with Him on the heavenly Mount Zion?
6 The apostle John could remember how, back in 29 C.E., John the Baptizer pointed to the spirit-anointed Jesus and said: “See, the Lamb of God!” And John the son of Zebedee followed Jesus for this reason. (John 1:36-39) Consequently, sixty-seven years afterward, when John saw and heard in an inspired vision the glorified Jesus Christ spoken of as “the Lamb,” he understood who was meant—no one else but Jesus Christ, who, on earth, had been sacrificed like an innocent lamb on God’s altar. (John 1:29; 1 Peter 1:18, 19) Many times during the years 30-33 C.E., John had stood with this symbolic Lamb, Jesus Christ, on the earthly Mount Zion, the mountain on which the original Jerusalem had stood. But that earthly mountain became used as a symbol of a site in heaven where the Messianic world government would have its seat. Who will stand there as sharers with the Lamb Jesus Christ in the heavenly world government? John observed the number and said:
7 “And 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 did not defile themselves with women; in fact, they are virgins. 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, 3-5.
8. What indicated there would be a fewness of Kingdom sharers?
8 Ah, then, just one hundred and forty-four thousand were “bought from the earth,” “bought from among mankind as firstfruits to God and to the Lamb,” for a place on the governmental Mount Zion in the heavens. What? Only 144,000 from among the billions of people that have lived and died during the past nineteen centuries since the days of Christ’s apostles? So few comparatively as 144,000? How different this Scriptural fact is from the idea in Christendom that the hundreds of millions of her church members will go to heaven at death! Here let us remember that “firstfruits” of any harvest are not the whole crop, but are merely a small token selection from the whole crop. Jesus hinted at the fewness of the Kingdom members when he said to his disciples: “Have no fear, little flock, because your Father has approved of giving you the kingdom. Sell the things belonging to you and give gifts of mercy. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, a never-failing treasure in the heavens.”—Luke 12:32, 33.
9, 10. (a) With what did the 144,000 have to be sealed? (b) Out of what nation were they sealed, and how many to a division?
9 That comparatively small number, 144,000, is not a miscalculation. It was also set forth earlier by John, in Revelation 7:1-8. It is there made clear that one of the requirements for being one of the “little flock” of Kingdom sharers is that of being marked in the forehead with the identifying “seal of the living God,” besides having written on the forehead, as it were, the name of the Lamb and the name of his Father, Jehovah God. How many meet this requirement, and of what nation or race are they? The apostle John leaves us in no doubt about this, saying:
10 “And I heard the number of those who were sealed, a hundred and forty-four thousand, sealed out of every tribe of the sons of Israel: Out of the tribe of Judah twelve thousand sealed; out of the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand; out of the tribe of Gad twelve thousand; out of the tribe of Asher twelve thousand; out of the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand; out of the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand; out of the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand; out of the tribe of Levi twelve thousand; out of the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand; out of the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand; out of the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand; out of the tribe of Benjamin twelve thousand sealed.”—Revelation 7:4-8.
11 The names of these twelve tribes differ from the list of names of the original twelve tribes of natural Israel, as given in Genesis 49:3-28. Rightly so, for Revelation 7:4-8 presents the names of the tribes of spiritual Israel. They have to be spiritual Israelites if they are to stand with the Lamb Jesus Christ on the heavenly Mount Zion. (Revelation 14:1-3; Hebrews 12:22) Here we have to take into consideration the words addressed to the Lamb Jesus Christ, at Revelation 5:9, 10: “You were slaughtered and with your blood you bought persons for God out of [whom? Out of natural, circumcised Israel? No, but out of] every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and you made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God, and they are to rule as kings over the earth.” Bible history shows that there were only a “remnant” of Jews according to the flesh that became Christians. It was just as the Christianized Jew, the apostle Paul, said:
12 “Unless Jehovah of armies had left a seed to us, we should have become just like Sodom, and we should have been made just like Gomorrah.” Also: “In this way, therefore, at the present season also a remnant has turned up according to a choosing due to undeserved kindness [and not according to fleshly Israelite descent].”—Romans 9:29; 11:5.
13, 14. (a) Do the 144,000 need to be fleshly Israelites? (b) To what extent do they have to be spiritual Israelites?
13 In order for 144,000 persons “out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation” to be rated as “Israelites” they would have to be such in a figurative sense, that is, be inwardly Israelites. As Romans 2:29 reminds us: “He is a Jew who is one on the inside, and his circumcision is that of the heart by spirit.”
14 Moreover, another indispensable thing calls for the sharers with Jesus Christ in the world rule to be Israelites of a spiritual kind. This indispensable feature is what Jesus called to the attention of the Jewish ruler Nicodemus, saying: “Unless anyone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. . . . Unless anyone is born from water and spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. What has been born from the flesh is flesh, and what has been born from the spirit is spirit. . . . So is everyone that has been born from the spirit.” (John 3:3-8) Accordingly, the natural Jews as well as the non-Jews who become the dedicated, baptized disciples of Christ and whom God picks out to share with Christ in world rule God begets with his spirit. All such become spiritual Israelites.
15. Who now make up the “Israel of God”?
15 We can therefore appreciate that such spirit-begotten Christians (drawn from both Jews and Gentiles) are a “new creation.” These conduct themselves according to this divine “rule,” and not according to the Law code given through Moses at Mount Sinai, Arabia. It is with respect to those belonging to this “new creation” that the Christianized Jew Paul writes: “All those who will walk orderly by this rule of conduct, upon them be peace and mercy, even upon the Israel of God.”—Galatians 6:15, 16.
16. Will Gentiles come under rule by a Jew at earthly Jerusalem?
16 Consequently, it is wrong, unscriptural, for anyone to argue that the natural, circumcised Jews, “that which is Israel in a fleshly way,” are going to become the world rulers on earth with Jerusalem of the Republic of Israel as their capital. (1 Corinthians 10:18) People who now belong to Gentile nations will not come under any world rule of such natural, circumcised Israelites. Rather, all nationalities, including the fleshly Jews, will come under the world rule of the heavenly “twelve tribes” of spiritual Israel, along with its King Jesus Christ, at God’s due time, shortly.
RESURRECTION TO RULERSHIP IN THE WORLD GOVERNMENT
17, 18. What did God foreordain about sharers in world rule?
17 Jehovah God, the Universal Sovereign, predestinated or foreordained the number that would share with Christ in the Kingdom rule over all the earth. He also foreordained the requirements and personal qualifications for those worthy to share in the world rule. That is why there will be only 144,000 who share with Jesus Christ in the world government. They must be spiritual Israelites. Aside from his Son Jesus Christ, Jehovah did not predestine or foreordain individuals. Rather, he set out in advance the requirements and personal qualifications for Kingdom heirs. In the light of this we understand Romans 8:29, 30:
18 “Those whom he gave his first recognition he also foreordained to be patterned after the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. Moreover, those whom he foreordained are the ones he also called; and those whom he called are the ones he also declared to be righteous [or, whom he justified]. Finally those whom he declared righteous are the ones he also glorified.”
19. What sufferings are foreordained for sharers in world rule?
19 According to foreordained requirements, those who are “patterned after the image” of the Son of God must suffer with him now, just as the apostle John on the isle of Patmos indicated. They are required to endure even to the death. But for their comfort the apostle Paul wrote: “Faithful is the saying: Certainly if we died together, we shall also live together; if we go on enduring, we shall also rule together as kings.” (2 Timothy 2:11, 12) And the prisoner apostle John was instructed to write the congregation at Smyrna: “Do not be afraid of the things you are about to suffer. Look! The Devil will keep on throwing some of you into prison that you may be fully put to the test, and that you may have tribulation ten days. Prove yourself faithful even to death, and I will give you the crown of life.”—Revelation 2:10.
20, 21. What kind of resurrection does theirs have to be? Why?
20 Since the 144,000 spiritual Israelites are those “who have been bought from the earth” and “bought from among mankind,” their future is no longer on earth and among mankind. As “firstfruits to God and to the Lamb,” they must be presented to these ones in heaven. So their resurrection out of death, down to which they have proved faithful, has to be to spirit life in heaven. Theirs is the spiritual resurrection that is described in 1 Corinthians 15:42-55. (Revelation 14:3, 4) For suffering in association with Christ and proving faithful to God even to the death, the 144,000 spiritual Israelites are most highly rewarded by the God who can resurrect the dead. The reward held out to these faithful ones is envisioned for us in Revelation 20:4-6. There the apostle John, who himself expected the heavenly reward, writes:
21 “And I saw thrones, and there were those who sat down on them, and power of judging was given them. Yes, I saw the souls of those executed with the ax [why?] for the witness they bore to Jesus and for speaking about God, and those who had worshiped neither the wild beast nor its image and who had not received the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand. And they came to life and ruled as kings with the Christ for a thousand years. . . . This is the first resurrection. Happy and holy is anyone having part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no authority, but they will be priests of God and of the Christ, and will rule as kings with him for the thousand years.”
22-24. How do these not worship the wild beast or its image?
22 From the first century C.E. onward till now, the 144,000 spiritual Israelites, who are selected for the heavenly rule as kings with Jesus Christ, have refused to worship the symbolic “wild beast,” that is, the political organization for rulership of all the earth by means of human governments. During the lifetime of the spiritual Israelites from apostolic days till now the Roman World Power and the Anglo-American Dual World Power have been the dominant members of the political “wild beast,” like the last two “heads” on this seven-headed wild beast.
23 The Anglo-American Dual World Power, the Seventh World Power of Bible prophecy, has been the chief one to propose and to maintain the “image” of the “wild beast.” This “image” of global rule by man-made governments was, first, the League of Nations, and, now, is the United Nations, for keeping world peace and security. The Anglo-American Dual World Power was pictured, as we will remember, by the “small” horn with eyes and a mouth on the head of the “fourth beast” seen in Daniel’s vision of the four beasts.
24 The faithful remnant of the 144,000 spiritual Israelites have refused to worship the political “wild beast” by engaging in worship of the State or any of its symbols. They have refused to worship even the most outstanding “head” of the “wild beast,” namely, the British-American World Power. And since they refuse to worship the symbolic “wild beast” itself, they consistently refuse to worship its “image” as proposed by the Seventh World Power, the “small” horn with eyes and mouth.—Revelation 13:1-17.
25. For refusing such worship how did they suffer in World War I?
25 Because they refused to worship the political State patriotically, the symbolic “small” horn, the Anglo-American World Power, took action. It harassed this remnant of “the holy ones themselves of the Supreme One,” as Daniel 7:25 had foretold. For a test of their devotion to his Messianic kingdom that was set up at the end of the Gentile Times in 1914, the Supreme One gave his “holy ones” into the hands of the symbolic “small” horn “for a time, and times and half a time,” or, three years and a half, during World War I. But the sufferings that the “holy ones” endured then and since have failed to force them to compromise.
26. What kind of death do such sharers in world rule undergo?
26 The “holy ones themselves of the Supreme One” know that, even if men put them to death for faithfully living up to the witness that they give to God’s Messianic kingdom, they will have a resurrection. Their death is not “the second death” out of which there is no resurrection. (Revelation 2:10, 11; 20:6; 21:8) Spirit-begotten Christians of such full-scale devotion are the ones whom the Most High God picks out for a share with his Son Jesus Christ in the approaching world government. Could mankind’s interests be in safer hands than of those God picks? No!
27. Why will God’s government be the best possible for mankind?
27 For that potent reason all lovers of righteousness and of incorruptibleness in government can look forward to the thousand-year rule of the King Jesus Christ and his 144,000 associates. Jehovah God as Universal Sovereign has purposed to give to all mankind the best possible government for them. It will be a superhuman world government, fully empowered to undo all the bad effects of the past thousands of years of human misrule and impotence. Before this invincible world government the mighty Seventh World Power and all the other worldly nations within and without the United Nations organization must bow in defeat and vanish during the “great tribulation” now so near. Even Satan the Devil and his demons, the invisible power behind the seven-headed “wild beast” of political rulership, must find all resistance useless. They will be stripped of all their unseen world control and be imprisoned in a sealed abyss for the thousand years of the reign of Christ and his 144,000 joint kings and priests.—Revelation 20:1-3.
28. Why do we eagerly look ahead to such kingdom as very near?
28 With eagerness and earnest prayer to the Sovereign Lord Jehovah we look forward to the fulfillment of the assuring words of the angel to Daniel: “And the kingdom and the rulership and the grandeur of the kingdoms under all the heavens were given to the people who are the holy ones of the Supreme One. Their kingdom is an indefinitely lasting kingdom, and all the rulerships will serve and obey even them.” (Daniel 7:27) Jehovah’s giving of the world rulership to Jesus Christ and all His other “holy ones” must now be very close. For more than nineteen hundred and forty years since Pentecost of 33 C.E., Jehovah has been picking out the 144,000 to be associated with his Holy Son Jesus the Messiah in Kingdom rule over all the earth. By now we must be living in the days of the final remnant of that select body of 144,000 “holy ones.” It is also more than sixty years since the Gentile Times ended in October of 1914. Hence the time should be near for the installed heavenly King Jesus Christ to dash the nations to pieces in mankind’s greatest time of distress.—Psalm 2:5-9.
29. Why do we desire to survive the nations’ “time of the end”?
29 The “time of the end” is now about to close for the nations! May that never signify the end of us personally along with those worldly nations. (Revelation 19:11-21) May we daily carry out our obligations to the Sovereign Lord Jehovah God so that, if he wills, we may survive into the millennium of Christ’s world rule.