A Government to Bring Earth-wide Peace
IS THERE any government that is able to bring lasting peace to earth? that can provide security and freedom from crime? that can make available an abundance of good food for all? that is able to clean up the environment and overcome disease?
2 Consider man’s record in the field of government—monarchies, democracies and socialistic or Communistic rules. None of these, nor all of them together, have been able to do the fine things just mentioned; not even on a small scale, to say nothing of earth wide. Nevertheless, there is reason for you to have hope.
GOD PURPOSES A GOVERNMENT—THE KINGDOM
3 Jehovah God himself promises to supply what we need. How can we be sure of that? Remember that he originally purposed a global paradise in which people could enjoy peace and happiness. (Genesis 1:28; 2:8, 9) Then rebellion occurred in the garden of Eden. But do you think that God would allow unappreciative creatures to defeat his purpose? Absolutely not. In fact, soon after Adam and Eve rebelled, Jehovah foretold a coming deliverer, a “seed” who would crush peace disturbers in heaven and on earth. (Genesis 3:15) ‘But,’ you may wonder, ‘where does “government” come into the picture?’ That “seed” was to be the Messiah, the Prince of Peace, about whom the prophet Isaiah was inspired to write: “To the abundance of [his] princely rule and to peace there will be no end.”—Isaiah 9:6, 7; 11:1-5.
4 Yes, the promise of Jehovah is for a rulership that will administer justice and bring peace. The Bible calls this rulership the kingdom of God. Millions have prayed: “Our Father . . . let your kingdom come.” (Matthew 6:9, 10) If you have offered this prayer, you have been praying for a real government—the heavenly kingdom—which will bring peace to earth. (Psalm 72:1-8) But when would God put that government into operation? How would he select and qualify its rulers?
5 Over the centuries God’s purpose unfolded. For example, he showed that the Messiah would come through Abraham, through Jacob, and would be of the tribe of Judah. (Genesis 22:18; 49:10) Then Jehovah established over Israel a kingdom that was a prophetic pattern of things to come. Israel was a theocracy (God-rule). Their king was said to sit on “Jehovah’s throne.” (1 Chronicles 29:23) Jehovah was the ultimate authority; his laws and standards guided the nation. In time, God told King David that through his family would come one who would be a permanent king.—Psalm 89:20, 21, 29.
6 Such details and other Bible information about Israelite history are important because they show us that God was laying a secure legal foundation for the coming kingdom. In harmony with this, God later sent an angel to a virgin girl of the house of David to tell her:
“You will . . . 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 1:28-33.
7 This is the foretold Messiah, the one to whom God promised to give lasting rulership over humankind. What can we expect from Jesus as ruler? Let us examine some of his record.
8 Jesus has always been fully devoted to God and the doing of His will. (Hebrews 10:9; Isaiah 11:3) One way in which he showed his loyalty to God was by refusing bribes of wealth or prominence, quite in contrast to many human rulers. (Luke 4:5-8) He was fearless in upholding the truth, so he did not hold back from exposing religious hypocrisy.—John 2:13-17; Mark 7:1-13.
9 Christ also has outstanding love for mankind, as demonstrated by the fact that he gave his life in our behalf. (John 13:34; 15:12, 13) Moved with compassion, Jesus cured the sick, raised the dead and provided food for the needy. (Luke 7:11-15, 22; 9:11-17) He also has power over natural forces and used it to benefit people. (Matthew 8:23-27) Yet he is approachable; even children were at ease with this mild-tempered man.—Matthew 11:28-30; 19:13-15.
10 Imagine the blessing of having him as Ruler, with his qualities and abilities! That is the grand prospect Jehovah’s worshipers have.
RULERSHIP FROM HEAVEN
11 When a Roman governor asked Jesus about his kingship, he replied: “My kingdom is no part of this world.” (John 18:36) Jesus kept strictly neutral as to the politics of the nations, setting an example for his followers. (John 6:15; 2 Corinthians 5:20) Furthermore, it was not God’s purpose for his Son to rule from an earthly location. He was to rule from heaven, where he could exercise superhuman, universal authority.
12 With that prospect in view, after Jesus had died faithful to God, his Father raised him to life as an immortal spirit creature. (Acts 10:39-43; 1 Corinthians 15:45) Christ appeared to his followers and assured them that he was alive and active. Then Jesus ascended to heaven. Concerning this, the apostle Peter wrote: “He is at God’s right hand, for he went his way to heaven; and angels and authorities and powers were made subject to him.”—1 Peter 3:22; Matthew 28:18.
13 Starting at that time, in 33 C.E., Christ began ruling over the Christian congregation, and his followers happily acknowledged his lordship and heavenly position. (Colossians 1:13, 14) Yet it was not God’s purpose for Jesus to begin ruling over the world of mankind and the universe then.
14 God was permitting men time to see for themselves the fruits of human rulership. Hence, Christ had to wait until the appointed time for Kingdom rule over the world. The apostle Paul wrote: “This man offered one sacrifice for sins perpetually and sat down at the right hand of God, from then on awaiting until his enemies should be placed as a stool for his feet.”—Hebrews 10:12, 13.
15 But if Jesus is invisible in heaven, how can we know when the time comes for him to begin ruling? As discussed in the previous chapter, Jesus gave a visible “sign” so that his followers on earth would know when that time had arrived. (Matthew 24:3-31) The wars, famines, earthquakes, persecution of Christians and global preaching of the Kingdom good news that we have seen since World War I (1914-1918) confirm that we are living in the conclusion of the system of things. These events also prove that Christ is now ruling in heaven, for, after describing a war in heaven against Satan, the Bible says:
“Now have come to pass the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ. . . . On this account be glad, you heavens and you who reside in them! Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.”—Revelation 12:7-12.
16 Hence, Jesus Christ is now reigning. This means that it will be only a “short period of time” until he exerts his authority to eliminate all opposition to the Kingdom, including the Devil and all man-made governments. (Daniel 2:44) Then we will be able to rejoice in a theocratic kingdom that will bring lasting peace.
CORULERS IN THE KINGDOM
17 Another fascinating aspect of the Kingdom is disclosed in the Bible. Daniel 7:13, 14 gives us a description of God’s Son receiving “rulership and dignity and kingdom.” Then the vision says:
“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.
So God purposes for Jesus Christ to have associate rulers. That means that some humans will go to heaven. When Jesus was on earth he began selecting men and women to become corulers with him. He said that he was going to heaven to prepare a place for them.—John 14:1-3.
18 This helps to clear up something that many who have attended church all their life do not understand: On the one hand, the Bible shows that God purposed for humans to live on earth; yet, on the other hand, the Bible talks about humans going to heaven. How does this work out? Well, God has promised to take some humans to heaven to be with his Son in the Kingdom government. But the earth is going to be a paradise filled with happy, peaceful humans.—See Psalm 37:29; Isaiah 65:17, 20-25.
19 How many will go to heaven as part of the Kingdom government? Jesus gave indication, saying: “Have no fear, little flock, because your Father has approved of giving you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32) Yes, the number is limited. Revelation shows that those “bought from among mankind” to reign with “the Lamb” (Jesus Christ) number 144,000. (Revelation 14:1-5) That is not hard to understand. Even some human governments have a selected body of men and women who go to the capital as part of the government.
20 But God has not left it up to humans to determine who will go to heaven. He selects them. (1 Peter 2:4, 5, 9; Romans 8:28-30; 9:16) When God chose the apostle Paul, he poured out his spirit on him, giving Paul the conviction that he would be part of the “heavenly kingdom.” (2 Timothy 4:18) Paul wrote: “The spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are God’s children. If, then, we are children, we are also heirs: heirs indeed of God, but joint heirs with Christ.”—Romans 8:16, 17; 2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5.
21 Relatively few of God’s worshipers have been chosen for life in heaven, since God’s purpose was for humans to live in happiness on earth. Jesus was the first one taken to heaven. (Hebrews 6:19, 20; Matthew 11:11) Thereafter God continued selecting 144,000 others. What would happen when that number was complete?
22 After being given a vision of the limited number (144,000) in heaven with Christ, the apostle John was shown “a great crowd, which no man was able to number.” (Revelation 7:4, 9, 10) These will be protected by God through the destructive end of the present system of things. They have the wonderful prospect of everlasting life on earth, the same prospect that applies to men of faith such as Noah, Abraham and David, who died before God opened the way to heavenly life for the 144,000.—Acts 2:34.
REASONS FOR CONFIDENCE IN THE RULERS
23 Today most persons have little confidence in their rulers. However, those who will rule in God’s kingdom are very different from worldly rulers. Over the centuries God has chosen persons who have proved their faith. Under all sorts of trials and temptations, they have adhered to what is right and just. They gain God’s confidence, so can we not have confidence in them?
24 Also, their having been humans will enable them to understand and sympathize with us. (Compare Hebrews 4:15, 16.) They know what it means to be tired, worried, discouraged. They know the effort needed to become more patient, kind and merciful. And some of them were women; they understand the feelings and special needs of women on earth.—Galatians 3:28.
25 Millions of Jehovah’s Witnesses today are proving their confidence in Christ and his corulers, and are showing how real the Kingdom is to them. They do this by being loyal subjects of God’s kingdom. (Proverbs 14:28) They accept and recommend its laws written in the Bible, truly believing that Christianity is the best way of life. They share in this government’s educational program. The Bible is the main textbook, used along with Christian reference works and study aids. At congregational meetings they learn more about the Kingdom and Christian living. And they carry the educational program to others by teaching publicly and in homes.—Acts 20:20.
26 Jesus said that one feature of the sign of the “last days” would be: “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 24:14) Before Jesus ascended to heaven he emphasized the need for his disciples to have an active share in this evangelizing work.—Matthew 28:19, 20; Acts 1:8.
27 Christians today realize that sharing in this preaching and teaching work is an important way that they can demonstrate their love for God and for their neighbors. (Mark 12:28-31) Lives are involved, so it is a serious responsibility. (Acts 20:26, 27; 1 Corinthians 9:16) It is also a source of considerable happiness and satisfaction. (Acts 20:35) Jehovah’s Witnesses will be glad to help you to teach others about God’s ruling kingdom.
What desirable things have human governments been unable to accomplish? (1, 2)
How do we know that God purposes a government that will bring peace? (3, 4)
What steps did God take toward producing the Kingdom? (5, 6)
Why can we be sure that Jesus will be an outstanding ruler? (7-10)
What reasons are there to know that Jesus is not to rule on earth? (11, 12)
What evidence is there as to when Christ began ruling over mankind? (13-16)
Who will rule with Jesus in the Kingdom? (17, 18)
How many will go to heaven, and why not all mankind? (19-22)
What reasons do we have for confidence in these corulers? (23, 24)
How can we show our support for the Kingdom? (25-27)
[Box on page 151]
“The failure to create a genuine basis for world peace . . . is directly chargeable to the refusal of nations, especially the larger ones, to accept an authority that can tell them what to do in the international arena.
“This, then, is the basic challenge today—how to create a world authority to keep the peace that has behind it the confidence of the world’s peoples.”—Editor Norman Cousins, “Saturday Review.”
[Box on page 159]
REALISTIC ABOUT GOVERNMENT
“Our weapons were cudgels, lead-lined clubs, chains and guns,” relates Stelvio, who in the 1970’s was a political activist in southern Europe. At clandestine military-like camps he had learned how to organize mobs and carry on city warfare.
But after some years a change came. One of Jehovah’s Witnesses visited Stelvio’s home, teaching the Bible. The effect? “It opened my eyes to see that nationalism and political factions divide men. I learned from the Bible that God made out of one man every nation of men, to dwell upon the earth. (Acts 17:26) This realization is a unifying force. It freed me of hating others just because their political ideas were different.”
This formerly violent activist adds: “I keep asking myself: How can man ever resolve his problems by politics, since politics itself has caused divisions of mankind? For men to get together, the reasons for divisions must disappear. I have seen among Jehovah’s Witnesses blacks and whites getting baptized in the same water, former Protestants and Catholics in Ireland stop hating one another, Arabs and Jews meeting together during the Six-Day War. I have learned to love those that I had hated.
“Nobody can say that God’s kingdom, which Jehovah’s Witnesses long for, is a mere utopian dream, because there is already an international community united under that kingdom. Applying Bible principles has brought results that no other religious, political or social group has achieved.
“To those who, like me in the past, struggle to bring justice, peace and social order, I say: ‘Be realistic and admit that man has been unable to bring them. Look, though, at Jehovah’s Witnesses. Have they not overcome problems with war, political divisions, racial discrimination, peace and unity? Men trust in men and have problems. Jehovah’s Witnesses submit to God’s kingdom and have resolved the main problems of living.’”