The Rule of the “Prince of Peace” Amid Enemies
1, 2. (a) What parting words did Jesus Christ say to a group of his disciples? (b) Did this call for world conversion before he would rule as the “Prince of Peace”?
SHORTLY before his ascension to heaven more than 19 centuries ago, the then future “Prince of Peace,” Jesus Christ, said these parting words to a group of his faithful disciples: “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit . . . And, look! I am with you all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.”—Matthew 28:19, 20.
2 Did those words of Jesus call for world conversion before “the conclusion of the system of things” that began in 1914? No. Today, near the close of this 20th century, the world of mankind remains far from being converted to Jesus Christ as its Savior and rightful King. However, this has not delayed the outworking of what Jehovah foretold in the prophecies of the Bible. It was never God’s purpose that the whole world of mankind be converted before Jesus Christ began to rule as the “Prince of Peace.” Directly contrary, he was foretold to begin ruling in the midst of his enemies.
3. How did Jesus’ reference to Psalm 110 indicate that he would reign amid enemies?
3 Even when he was down here on earth, Jesus Christ knew this fact. Shortly before his death as a martyr, he had a dispute with his religious opposers and made a reference to Psalm 110. We read about this at Luke 20:41-44: “In turn he said to them: ‘How is it they say that the Christ is David’s son? For David himself says in the book of Psalms, “Jehovah said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand until I place your enemies as a stool for your feet.” David, therefore, calls him “Lord”; so how is he his son?’”
4 Plainly, then, Jesus Christ, as the Son of David, was not to begin ruling after world conversion. Rather, he was to begin ruling among enemies whom Jehovah God by warfare would eventually make the footstool for the feet of his enthroned Son. Psalm 2 likewise, in the following words, indicates the beginning of his rule as the “Prince of Peace” amid enemies:
5 “Why have the nations been in tumult and the national groups themselves kept muttering an empty thing? The kings of earth take their stand and high officials themselves have massed together as one against Jehovah and against his anointed one [his Christ], saying: ‘Let us tear their bands apart and cast their cords away from us!’ The very One sitting in the heavens will laugh; Jehovah himself will hold them in derision. At that time he will speak to them in his anger and in his hot displeasure he will disturb them, saying: ‘I, even I, have installed my king upon Zion, my holy mountain.’
6 “Let me refer to the decree of Jehovah; he has said to me [Christ]: ‘You are my son; I, today, I have become your father. [Psalm 2:7 was fulfilled when Jehovah resurrected his Son from the dead, thus becoming an everlasting Father to Jesus. (Romans 1:4)] Ask of me, that I may give nations as your inheritance and the ends of the earth as your own possession. You will break them with an iron scepter, as though a potter’s vessel you will dash them to pieces.’ And now, O kings, exercise insight; let yourselves be corrected, O judges of the earth. Serve Jehovah with fear and be joyful with trembling. Kiss the son, that He may not become incensed and you may not perish from the way, for his anger flares up easily. Happy are all those taking refuge in him.”
7. What reference to Psalm 2 did the apostles of Jesus Christ make after the day of Pentecost?
7 According to Acts 4:24-27, the apostles of Jesus Christ referred to this second psalm after the day of Pentecost, 33 C.E.: “They with one accord raised their voices to God and said: ‘Sovereign Lord, you are the One who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all the things in them, and who through holy spirit said by the mouth of our forefather David, your servant, “Why did nations become tumultuous and peoples meditate upon empty things? The kings of the earth took their stand and the rulers massed together as one against Jehovah and against his anointed one.” Even so, both Herod and Pontius Pilate with men of nations and with peoples of Israel were in actuality gathered together in this city against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed.’”
Major Fulfillment of Psalm 2
8 The year 33 of the first century saw the first fulfillment of those prophetic words of Psalm 2:1, 2. This was in connection with the man Jesus Christ on earth. He had been anointed with Jehovah’s holy spirit at the time of his baptism by John the Baptizer. But the major fulfillment of Psalm 2 has been taking place since the end of the Gentile Times in the year 1914. (Luke 21:24) It has been amply verified that “the appointed times of the nations,” which began at the first destruction of the city of Jerusalem in 607 B.C.E., ended in the year 1914.* Then the death knell sounded for the nations of this world, including those of Christendom.
9. What happened at the first destruction of Jerusalem with regard to the Kingdom of God as represented by the royal line of King David?
9 At the first destruction of Jerusalem, by the Babylonians, the Kingdom of Jehovah God over the nation of Israel, as represented by the royal line of King David, came to an end. Since then, the natural Jews have not had a king over them in the line of the royal house of David. But the Kingdom of the Most High God in the hands of a descendant of David, with whom Jehovah made a covenant for an everlasting Kingdom in his line, was not to lie prone on earth forever.
10, 11. (a) What did God through his prophet Ezekiel say with regard to the throne of David? (b) Who came with “the legal right” to David’s throne? (c) What did the crowd of Jews say when he presented himself as the legal heir?
10 To the king of ancient Jerusalem, shortly before its first destruction, Jehovah caused his prophet Ezekiel to direct these words: “As for you, O deadly wounded, wicked chieftain of Israel, whose day has come in the time of the error of the end, this is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has 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.
11 The one with “the legal right” came in the person of Jesus Christ, and his line of descent from David is recorded at Matthew 1:1-16 and Luke 3:23-31. He was generally addressed as “the Son of David.” On the day of his triumphal ride into Jerusalem, mounted on an ass in fulfillment of prophecy, the exulting crowd of Jews that accompanied him and his apostles cried out jubilantly: “Save, we pray, the Son of David! Blessed is he that comes in Jehovah’s name! Save him, we pray, in the heights above!”—Matthew 21:9.
“The Son of David” Is Enthroned in Heaven
12. When the Gentile Times ended in 1914, where was Jesus Christ, as David’s permanent heir, enthroned?
12 The 2,520 years for the Gentiles to be treading underfoot the Kingdom of God in the hands of the house of David ended in 1914. Then came the time for Jesus Christ, “the Son of David,” to be enthroned, not down here on an earthly throne, but in the highest heavens at the right hand of Jehovah God!—Daniel 7:9, 10, 13, 14.
13. (a) Since what date was the year 1914 pointed forward to as the end of the Gentile Times, and by whom? (b) What was the attitude of the nations of the earth toward the newly enthroned “Son of David”?
13 That momentous date had been pointed forward to since 1876 by those who became associated with the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. But the nations of the earth, even those of Christendom, refused to recognize it as the time for them to turn over their earthly sovereignties to the newly enthroned “Son of David.” They did not acknowledge that he held the God-given right to sovereignty over the whole earth, which is Jehovah God’s footstool. (Matthew 5:35) They signalized their flagrant rejection of the rightful King by engaging in the first world war.
14. (a) With the outbreak of World War I, what attitude did the nations manifest toward those Christians associated with the Watch Tower Society? (b) In view of this, what does the worldwide situation signify?
14 In all the warring nations, the dedicated Christians who were associated with the Watch Tower Society came under tremendous pressure to abandon their resolve to keep free from bloodguilt. They did not then understand to the fullest degree the requirement for Christian neutrality. The prophecy of “the Son of David,” Jesus Christ, to his disciples regarding “the conclusion of the system of things” came painfully true: “You will be objects of hatred by all the nations on account of my name.” (Matthew 24:9) This hatred has not abated since the end of World War I. In view of these meaningful facts of modern history, what does the worldwide situation signify? This: The “Prince of Peace” rules amid enemies who are right here on earth!
15. What happened to Satan the Devil and his demon hordes when warfare broke out in heaven, and by what year must the results have been conclusive?
15 The Almighty God brought the promised Messianic Kingdom to birth at his appointed time in spite of all the enemies that were on hand in heaven and on earth. Revelation 12:1-9 shows that after the birth of ‘the man-child’ Kingdom in the heavens from the womb of Jehovah’s wifelike organization, as it were, warfare promptly broke out in heaven itself. The holy heavens were no longer the place for the symbolic dragon, Satan the Devil, and his demonic angels. In this warfare, unseen to human eyes, the royally empowered “Son of David” fought victoriously and ejected Satan the Devil and his demon hordes from the heavens and confined them to the vicinity of our earthly globe. This debasement of the satanic forces was evidently fully accomplished by 1918, the year when World War I came to an end.
Demoted, the Devil Wages War
16, 17. (a) Against whom does the demoted Satan the Devil wage warfare? (b) Whom does he use to carry on this warfare?
16 The demoted Satan the Devil, the symbolic dragon, is now especially wrathful toward the wifelike organization of Jehovah God. (Revelation 12:17) Thus he viciously wages warfare upon the spirit-begotten remnant of dedicated Christians who have the evidence that she is their spiritual mother.—Galatians 4:26.
17 Satan also wages war on the “other sheep,” who obediently work with the anointed remnant in bearing witness to the Kingdom’s birth. (John 10:16) He not only uses his demoted demon forces, now in the vicinity of the earth, but also employs the visible part of his organization to carry on this warfare against the remnant and the “other sheep.”
18. (a) Though the Devil viciously wages war against the anointed remnant and their companions, what protective force do they have? (b) What aspect of the rule of the “Prince of Peace” nears its end?
18 The rule of the “Prince of Peace” amid his enemies down here at the earth nears its close. He has taken excellent care of the situation. Day and night his loyal holy angels stand at attention, ready to receive royal orders from him and to act upon them with dispatch. They serve as a protective force for the anointed remnant and their companions, the “great crowd” of “other sheep,” as these continue to serve the Kingdom interests during this fast-diminishing time when the “Prince of Peace” rules amid his enemies.—Revelation 7:9.
For details, see the book You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth, pages 138-41, published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.