God’s Government Begins Its Rule
1. (a) To what have persons of faith long looked forward? (b) Why is God’s kingdom called a “city”?
FOR THOUSANDS of years persons with faith in God’s government have looked forward to the time when it would begin its rule. For example, the Bible says that faithful Abraham “was awaiting the city having real foundations, the builder and maker of which city is God.” (Hebrews 11:10) That “city” is God’s kingdom. But why is it here called a “city”? This is because in ancient times it was common for a king to rule over a city. So people often thought of a city as a kingdom.
2. (a) What shows that the Kingdom was real to Christ’s early disciples? (b) What did they want to know about it?
2 The kingdom of God was real to Christ’s early followers. This is shown by their keen interest in its rule. (Matthew 20:20-23) A question in their minds was: When would Christ and his disciples begin ruling? Once when Jesus appeared to his disciples after his resurrection, they asked: “Lord, are you restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?” (Acts 1:6) So, are you eager to learn when Christ begins to rule as King of God’s government, even as Christ’s disciples were?
THE GOVERNMENT FOR WHICH CHRISTIANS PRAY
3, 4. (a) What shows that God has always ruled as King? (b) So why did Christ teach his followers to pray for God’s kingdom to come?
3 Christ taught his followers to pray to God: “Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.” (Matthew 6:9, 10) But someone may ask: ‘Has not Jehovah God always ruled as king? And if he has, why pray for his kingdom to come?’
4 True, the Bible calls Jehovah the “King of eternity.” (1 Timothy 1:17) And it says: “Jehovah himself has firmly established his throne in the very heavens; and over everything his own kingship has held domination.” (Psalm 103:19) So Jehovah has always been the Supreme Ruler over all his creations. (Jeremiah 10:10) However, because of the rebellion against his rulership in the garden of Eden, God arranged for a special government. This is the government for which Jesus Christ later taught his followers to pray. Its purpose is to end the problems caused when Satan the Devil and others turned away from God’s rulership.
5. If it is God’s kingdom, why is it also called Christ’s kingdom and the kingdom of the 144,000?
5 This new Kingdom government receives its power and right to rule from the Great King, Jehovah God. It is his kingdom. Over and over again, the Bible calls it the “kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:2, 11, 60, 62; 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10; 15:50) However, since Jehovah has appointed his Son to be its Chief Ruler, it is also referred to as Christ’s kingdom. (2 Peter 1:11) As we learned in an earlier chapter, 144,000 persons from among humankind will rule with Christ in this kingdom. (Revelation 14:1-4; 20:6) So the Bible also refers to it as “their kingdom.”—Daniel 7:27.
6. According to some persons, when did God’s kingdom begin to rule?
6 Some persons say that the Kingdom began its rule in the year that Jesus returned to heaven. They say that Christ began ruling when he poured out the holy spirit on his followers on the day of the Jewish festival of Pentecost in the year 33 C.E. (Acts 2:1-4) But the Kingdom government that Jehovah arranged to end all the problems created by Satan’s rebellion did not begin its rule then. There is nothing to show that the ‘male child,’ which is God’s government with Christ as ruler, was then born and began its rule. (Revelation 12:1-10) Well, did Jesus in any way have a kingdom in the year 33 C.E.?
7. Over whom has Christ been ruling since 33C.E.?
7 Yes, Jesus then began to rule over his congregation of followers who, in time, were to join him in the heavens. Thus the Bible speaks of them, while they are on earth, as being taken into “the kingdom of the Son of [God’s] love.” (Colossians 1:13) But this rule, or “kingdom,” over Christians with the hope of heavenly life is not the Kingdom government for which Jesus taught his followers to pray. It is a kingdom over only the 144,000 persons who will rule with him in heaven. Down through the centuries they have been its only subjects. Thus this rule, or ‘kingdom of the Son of God’s love,’ will end when the last one of these subjects with a heavenly hope dies and joins Christ in heaven. No longer will they be Christ’s subjects, but they will then be kings with him in God’s long-promised Kingdom government.
BEGINNING OF RULE IN THE MIDST OF ENEMIES
8. (a) What shows that after Christ’s resurrection there would be a time of waiting before he began to rule? (b) What did God say to Christ when it was time for him to rule?
8 When Christ returned to heaven after his resurrection, he did not start ruling then as King of God’s government. Rather, there was to be a time of waiting, as the apostle Paul explains: “This man [Jesus Christ] 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) When the time came for Christ to begin to rule, Jehovah told him: “Go subduing [or, conquering] in the midst of your enemies.”—Psalm 110:1, 2, 5, 6.
9. (a) Why does not everyone want God’s kingdom? (b) When God’s government begins its rule, what do the nations do?
9 Does it sound strange that anyone would be an enemy of God’s government? Yet not everyone wants to live under a government that requires its subjects to do what is right. So after telling how Jehovah and his Son would take over world rulership, the Bible says, “the nations became wrathful.” (Revelation 11:15, 17, 18) The nations do not welcome God’s kingdom because Satan misleads them into opposing it.
10, 11. (a) When God’s government begins its rule, what happens in heaven? (b) What happens on earth? (c) So what important point do we want to remember?
10 When God’s government begins its rule, Satan and his angels are still living in heaven. Since they oppose Kingdom rule, right away war breaks out. As a result, Satan and his angels are thrown out of heaven. At this, a loud voice says: “Now have come to pass the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ.” Yes, the rule of God’s government begins! And with Satan and his angels removed from heaven, there is rejoicing there. “On this account be glad, you heavens and you who reside in them!” the Bible says.—Revelation 12:7-12.
11 Is this also a happy time for the earth? No! Instead, there is the greatest time of trouble the earth has ever had. The Bible tells us: “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 12:12) So this is an important point to remember: The start of the rule of God’s kingdom does not mean immediate peace and security on earth. True peace will come later when God’s kingdom takes full control of the earth. This happens at the end of the “short period of time,” when Satan and his angels will be put out of the way so that they can no longer cause trouble for anyone.
12. Why can we expect that the Bible would tell us when God’s kingdom begins its rule?
12 But when is Satan thrown out of heaven, thus causing trouble on earth for “a short period of time”? When does God’s government begin its rule? Does the Bible give an answer? We should expect that it would. Why? Well, because long in advance the Bible foretold when God’s Son would appear first as a human on earth to become the Messiah. In fact, it pointed to the very year that he became the Messiah. What, then, about the even more important coming of the Messiah, or Christ, to begin his Kingdom rule? Surely we would expect that the Bible would also tell us when this would happen!
13. How does the Bible foretell the very year that the Messiah appeared on earth?
13 But a person may ask: ‘Where does the Bible foretell the very year the Messiah appeared on earth?’ The Bible book of Daniel says: “From the going forth of the word to restore and to rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Leader, there will be seven weeks, also sixty-two weeks,” or all together 69 weeks. (Daniel 9:25) These, however, are not 69 literal weeks, which amount to only 483 days, or a little more than one year. They are 69 weeks of years, or 483 years. (Compare Numbers 14:34.) The command to restore and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem was given in 455 B.C.E.a (Nehemiah 2:1-8) So these 69 weeks of years ended 483 years later, in 29 C.E. And that is the very year that Jesus came to John to be baptized! On that occasion he was anointed with holy spirit and became the Messiah, or Christ.—Luke 3:1, 2, 21-23.
WHEN GOD’S GOVERNMENT BEGINS ITS RULE
14. What does the “tree” in Daniel chapter four represent?
14 Well, then, where does the Bible foretell the year that Christ begins to rule as king of God’s government? It is in this same Bible book of Daniel. (Daniel 4:10-37) There a giant, heaven-high tree is used to represent King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. He was the highest human ruler at that time. However, King Nebuchadnezzar was forced to know that someone higher was ruling. This one is “the Most High,” or “the King of the heavens,” Jehovah God. (Daniel 4:34, 37) So, in a more important way, this heaven-high tree, comes to represent the supreme rulership of God, particularly in its relationship to our earth. Jehovah’s rulership was expressed for a time through the kingdom that he set up over the nation of Israel. Thus the kings of the tribe of Judah who reigned over the Israelites were said to “sit upon Jehovah’s throne.”—1 Chronicles 29:23.
15. When the “tree” was cut down, why were bands put on it?
15 According to the Bible account in Daniel chapter four, the heaven-high tree was cut down. However, the stump was left, and bands of iron and of copper were put on it. This would keep the stump from growing until it was God’s time to remove the bands and let it start growing again. But how and when was God’s rulership cut down?
16. (a) How and when was God’s rulership cut down? (b) What was the last king of Judah to sit on “Jehovah’s throne” told?
16 In due course, the kingdom of Judah that Jehovah had set up became so corrupt that he allowed King Nebuchadnezzar to destroy it, to cut it down. This happened in the year 607 B.C.E. At that time Zedekiah, the last king of Judah to sit on Jehovah’s throne, was told: “Lift off the crown. . . . 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.
17. What period of time began in 607 B.C.E.?
17 So God’s rulership, as represented by the “tree,” was cut down in 607 B.C.E. No longer was there a government to represent God’s rulership in the earth. Thus, in 607 B.C.E. a period of time began that Jesus Christ later referred to as “the appointed times of the nations,” or, “the times of the Gentiles.” (Luke 21:24; King James Version) During these “appointed times” God did not have a government to represent his rulership in the earth.
18. What was to happen at the end of “the appointed times of the nations”?
18 What was to happen at the end of these “appointed times of the nations”? Jehovah was to give the power to rule to the One “who has the legal right.” This One is Jesus Christ. So if we can find out when “the appointed times of the nations” end, we will know when Christ begins to rule as king.
19. For how many “times” would God’s rulership over the earth be interrupted?
19 According to Daniel chapter four, these “appointed times” would be “seven times.” Daniel shows that there would be “seven times” during which God’s rulership, as represented by the “tree,” would not be in operation over the earth. (Daniel 4:16, 23) How long are these “seven times”?
20. (a) How long is one “time”? (b) How long are the “seven times”? (c) Why do we count a day for a year?
20 In Revelation chapter 12, verses 6 and 14, we learn that 1,260 days are equal to “a time [that is, 1 time] and times [that is, 2 times] and half a time.” That is a total of 3 1/2 times. So “a time” would be equal to 360 days. Therefore, “seven times” would be 7 times 360, or 2,520 days. Now if we count a day for a year, according to a Bible rule, the “seven times” equal 2,520 years.—Numbers 14:34; Ezekiel 4:6.
21. (a) When do “the appointed times of the nations” begin and end? (b) When does God’s government begin its rule? (c)Why is it still proper to pray for God’s kingdom to come?
21 We have already learned that “the appointed times of the nations” began in the year 607 B.C.E. So by counting 2,520 years from that date, we come down to 1914 C.E. That is the year these “appointed times” ended. Millions of people still living remember the things that happened in 1914. In that year, World War I began a period of terrible trouble that has continued to our day. This means that Jesus Christ began to rule as king of God’s heavenly government in 1914. And because the Kingdom has already started its rule, how timely it is that we pray for it to “come” and wipe Satan’s wicked system of things from the earth!—Matthew 6:10; Daniel 2:44.
22. What question may some ask?
22 Yet a person may ask: ‘If Christ has already returned to rule in his Father’s kingdom, why do we not see him?’
a For the historical evidence that this command was given in 455 B.C.E., see the subject “Artaxerxes” in the book Aid to Bible Understanding, published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
[Chart on page 140, 141]
In 607 B.C.E. God’s kingdom of Judah fell.
In 1914 C.E. Jesus Christ began to rule as king of God’s heavenly government
607 B.C.E.—1914 C.E.
October, 607 B.C.E.—October, 1 B.C.E. = 606 years
October, 1 B.C.E.—October, 1914 C.E. = 1,914 years
SEVEN GENTILE TIMES = 2,520 YEARS
[Picture on page 134]
“Are you restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?”
[Picture on page 139]
The tall tree in Daniel chapter 4 represents divine rulership. For a time this was expressed through the kingdom of Judah
[Picture on page 140, 141]
The tree was cut down when the kingdom of Judah was destroyed