Reaching Out for the Kingdom
1. (a) With regard to government, what does Jehovah offer in contrast to what humans have provided? (b) Why may we safely build our lives around God’s Word?
WHEN something desirable is offered to you, how do you respond? Do you not reach out for it? Well, Jehovah God is presenting you with the opportunity of everlasting life under a perfect government. It is true that, in government today, many politicians are corrupt and their promises are often worthless. Even if they are well intentioned, humans have proved to be incapable of providing good government independent of God’s sovereignty. (Proverbs 20:24) But all along, God has been taking progressive steps leading to the establishment of his perfect Kingdom government, and he invites lovers of righteousness to benefit from it. His purpose is trustworthy and true. He cannot lie. We can safely build our lives around his Word.—Revelation 21:1-5; Titus 1:2.
2. (a) When and how did God state his purpose to establish a righteous kingdom? (b) What does Hebrews 11:4-7 reveal as to those who reached out for the Kingdom hope?
2 God’s purpose to establish a kingdom of righteousness is not new. In Eden, when God’s sovereignty was first called in question, God stated his purpose to produce a “seed” that would “crush” Satan and his brood. (Genesis 3:15; Romans 16:20) Amid the violence of that ancient world, Abel, Enoch and Noah showed faith in that promise of Jehovah. Confident that God would reward “those earnestly seeking him,” they endured reproaches, choosing to ‘walk with God’ and to preach righteousness. (Hebrews 11:4-7) What fine examples for all today who exercise faith in the ‘coming’ of God’s kingdom!
A REMARKABLE FAMILY LINE
3. According to Genesis 12:1-7, how was Abraham a splendid model for us?
3 More than 400 years after the Flood, God made it clear that the promised kingly “seed” would come from the family line of Abraham. But why Abraham? Because God saw in him outstanding faith. He called Abraham out of his native city, Ur of the Chaldeans, and sent him to a strange land, Canaan, saying:
Rather than cling to the nation of his birth, Abraham left it, never to return. He was willing to make a complete change in his life-style, in order to render unqualified obedience to the Sovereign Lord Jehovah. A splendid model, indeed, for all who would pursue a life of dedication to Jehovah today!
4. How was Sarah blessed because of her faith? (Hebrews 11:11, 12)
4 Though his wife, Sarah, remained barren into her old age, Jehovah later reassured Abraham, telling him: “I will bless her and she shall become nations; kings of peoples will come from her.” (Genesis 17:16) At 90 years of age, faithful Sarah was blessed in miraculously bearing Abraham a son, Isaac, the forefather of many kings.—Matthew 1:2, 6-11, 16; Revelation 17:14.
5. How was the obedience of Abraham and Isaac rewarded?
5 In the course of time, Jehovah put both Abraham and Isaac to a searching test. He instructed Abraham to take his only son by Sarah some three days’ journey to Mount Moriah, there to sacrifice him as a burnt offering. By now Isaac quite likely was about 25 years of age and strong enough to carry the heavy load of firewood up the mountain; strong enough also to resist his 125-year-old father, had he wanted to do so. But father and son obediently acted out their parts in this stirring drama, to the point when Jehovah’s angel stayed Abraham’s hand as he raised the slaughtering knife. A ram replaced Isaac as the victim.—Genesis 22:1-14.
6. (a) What prophetic pattern was there enacted? (b) Why should the promise at Genesis 22:18 be of special interest to you?
“By means of your seed all nations of the earth will certainly bless themselves due to the fact that you have listened to my voice.”—Genesis 22:15-18.
7. What course on our part will Jehovah reward?
7 What outstanding examples of obedience were Abraham and Isaac! We may never be called upon to make their kind of sacrifice, but it is important that we submit ourselves to Jehovah as they did, out of genuine love for him. (James 4:7; 2 Corinthians 9:13) Willingness to sacrifice self and selfish interests, in order to reach out for ‘the Kingdom to come,’ is a course that Jehovah always approves and rewards.—Matthew 6:33.
8. (a) How did the course of Jacob contrast with that of Esau? (b) What blessing did Isaac bestow on Jacob?
8 Isaac’s son Jacob was another person who reached out for the Kingdom. But his twin brother Esau despised sacred things, getting interested in Canaanite women and in selfish materialism. And he sold his precious birthright to Jacob for a mere dish of stew! (Hebrews 12:16) The spiritually minded Jacob thought highly of the birthright, and Jehovah directed matters so that he could retain that prize, even to receiving the aged Isaac’s blessing. Esau had married demon-worshiping women, but in contrast Jacob made the long journey to Mesopotamia to seek a wife from among Jehovah’s worshipers. At that time Isaac reassured Jacob with the words:
9. (a) Why was Jacob’s name changed to Israel? (b) How may we benefit from his example?
9 Later, when he was close to 100 years of age, Jacob again showed how highly he valued spiritual things. He wrestled with an angel all night for a blessing. As a token of His favor, Jehovah there changed Jacob’s name to Israel, meaning “Perseverer with God.” (Genesis 32:24-30) We will be rewarded today, also, if we persevere in reaching out for spiritual riches, while avoiding the spirit of the wicked world around us.—Matthew 6:19-21.
10 Jehovah did indeed organize Jacob’s descendants as a “congregation of peoples,” and through His mediator Moses, whom He used also to start writing down the Bible, God called to that nation of Israel, saying:
“If you will strictly obey my voice . . . you yourselves will become to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” (Exodus 19:5, 6)
Unhappily, because of not obeying God’s voice, fleshly Israel failed to become that spiritual kingdom. But in association with that nation, many individuals proved their integrity to God—such as the judges in Israel, the prophets and even a former harlot, Rahab. We can read about those faithful “witnesses” at Hebrews 11:1–12:1, and what warm encouragement they provide for persons who are looking, in modern times, for ‘God’s kingdom to come’!
11. How may you be like those faithful witnesses?
11 Do you want to become strong in faith? Do you want now to be like those men and women of faith in “reaching out for a better place, that is, one belonging to heaven,” yes, reaching out for “the city having real foundations, the builder and maker of which city is God”? (Hebrews 11:10, 16) ‘But,’ you may ask, ‘what is that “city”?’
THE CITY BUILT BY GOD
12 That “city” is the promised kingdom of God. Why do we say so? Well, in ancient times it was often true that a city was a kingdom, ruled over by a king. The first king mentioned with approval in the Bible was “Melchizedek, king of [the city of] Salem, priest of the Most High God.” Centuries later, the city of Jerusalem was built upon that same site, and, like Salem, it came to picture the heavenly kingdom in the hands of the great King and High Priest, Jesus Christ. (Genesis 14:1-20; Hebrews 7:1, 2, 15-17; 12:22, 28) Though they did not know the details then, Abraham and Sarah, as well as Isaac and Jacob, were earnestly seeking “the city” over which the Messiah would rule as king. Abraham “rejoiced greatly in the prospect.” You, too, can find joy as in faith you reach out for a place in that Kingdom arrangement.—Hebrews 11:14-16; John 8:56.
13, 14. How did Jacob’s deathbed prophecy begin to have fulfillment?
13 Jacob fathered 12 sons, who in due course became the heads of the 12 tribes of Israel. On his deathbed, Jacob foretold which of the 12 tribes would produce God’s ruler with Kingdom authority, saying:
“A lion cub Judah is. . . . The scepter will not turn aside from Judah . . . until Shiloh [meaning, He Whose It Is] comes; and to him the obedience of the peoples will belong.” (Genesis 49:9, 10)
Did Shiloh come from Judah? Why, yes!
14 The fulfillment of Jacob’s prophecy began to unfold more than 600 years later. It was then that Jehovah chose, from the tribe of Judah, “a man agreeable to his heart.” His name was David. God made this courageous ‘lion of Judah’ leader and king over His people Israel. (1 Samuel 13:14; 16:7, 12, 13; 1 Chronicles 14:17) To King David, Jehovah promised an everlasting kingdom.—Psalm 89:20, 27-29.
15. Why did Jehovah overturn the Judean kingdom, and for how long?
15 David, who commenced his reign in 1077 B.C.E., was the first of a dynasty of Judean kings that ruled in the city of Jerusalem. The nation prospered whenever its king willingly obeyed Jehovah. But when a king became wicked and rebelled against Jehovah’s righteous laws, the people suffered. (Proverbs 29:2) The last king of Judah, Zedekiah, was very wicked. To him, God’s prophet declared: “‘Lift off the crown. . . . A ruin, a ruin, a ruin I shall make it . . . until he comes who has the legal right, and I must give it to him.’” The Sovereign Lord Jehovah overturned that kingdom, until a king with “legal right” would appear.—Ezekiel 21:26, 27.
THE KING WITH “LEGAL RIGHT”
16. How do the Scriptures identify the permanent heir of the Kingdom?
16 Who would inherit the “legal right” to the Davidic kingdom? The first Mt 1:1-17 verses of the Bible book of Matthew supply the answer. They trace the line of the promised “seed” from Abraham to David, and then down to Joseph, who in due course became husband to Mary. Thus Mary’s firstborn son would have the “legal right” to the Kingdom. Early in the year 2 B.C.E., the angel Gabriel could therefore announce concerning the son to be conceived miraculously in her womb:
“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)
Grandly through the centuries Jehovah had been working out his purpose to bring forth this permanent heir to David’s kingdom. As we review these things, do they not strengthen our faith in God’s promise of his ‘kingdom to come’?
17, 18. (a) Who only will inherit the heavenly kingdom? (b) Who are some of the faithful ones to be resurrected on earth? (c) What should this realization encourage us to do?
17 It is not that all of us can expect to be in the heavenly kingdom with Jesus, for that opportunity is reserved for only a “little flock” of his disciples. (Luke 12:32) Even King David did not have such a hope. We are told: “Actually David did not ascend to the heavens.” (Acts 2:34) Nor do John the Baptizer and other faithful men and women of ancient times enter “the kingdom of the heavens.”—Matthew 11:11; Hebrews 11:39, 40.
18 However, such faithful integrity-keepers will be resurrected right here on this earth, many of them to become “princes” in God’s Kingdom arrangement. (Psalm 45:16) Would you not like to welcome them back from the grave and to enjoy rich fellowship with them? Surely you would! Then be resolved, also, to reach out for that “city” by becoming “fellow workers for the kingdom of God” with all others today who appreciate that grand opportunity.—Colossians 4:11.
[Pictures on page 52, 53]
THEY REACHED OUT FOR GOD’S KINGDOM
ABEL c. 3900 B.C.E.
NOAH 2970-2020 B.C.E.
ABRAHAM, SARAH, ISAAC, JACOB 2018-1711 B.C.E.
JOSEPH 1767-1657 B.C.E.
MOSES 1593-1473 B.C.E.
RAHAB 1473 B.C.E.
JUDGES 1473-1117 B.C.E.
RUTH, NAOMI c. 1300 B.C.E.
DAVID 1107-1037 B.C.E.
PROPHETS 1117-442 B.C.E.
JOHN THE BAPTIZER 2 B.C.E.-31 C.E.