“The Increase of His Government”
“Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom.”—Isa. 9:7.
1. What is Jehovah’s purpose, and his right and responsibility?
JEHOVAH God is now crowning his glorious purpose with success. At the very time that mankind came into need because of the invasion of selfishness, error and death, Jehovah made it his purpose to set up a righteous government over the whole earth for mankind’s deliverance. The setting up of such a government is his right. It is, in fact, his responsibility, and he has not failed that responsibility. “For there is no authority except from God.” (Rom. 13:1, Rev. Stan. Ver.) Because it is a government from him and is his means for ruling his creatures on earth it is called a “Theocracy”, for that name means God’s dominion or rule. His government in the heavens is now born and is ready to take over earth’s rule, regardless of the combined opposition of men who fight against God. Earth and the people’s way of existence are soon due for a wonderful transformation. This denotes a new world of God’s creation.
2. Why is Jehovah glad for this time, and who else with him?
2 Jehovah’s heart is glad for this time. Yes, the heart of everyone is glad if he is acquainted with Jehovah’s grand purpose and sees where we are in its successful development. Nineteen centuries have now passed since his dear Son Jesus Christ died sacrificially, was raised from the dead, and ascended to heaven, there to sit at his Father’s right hand until the time should come for all his enemies in heaven and in earth to be made his footstool, laid low in defeat. Meantime his enemies were let rule the earth without interruption from heaven, and that period Jesus called the “times of the Gentiles”. (Luke 21:24) Thirty-six years ago, in 1914, the terminus of that long period of time was reached. All the calamities and disturbances that have befallen the Gentiles or nations since 1914, all the woes in concentrated measure that have come upon the groaning peoples, all the fruitless attempts of politics, commerce and organized religion to better or remedy conditions, the worsening of conditions and the rising fears of rulers and peoples, all these are a sign. Of its meaning we need not be in doubt. Jesus Christ explained it for us in his final days on earth. The sign shows that the Gentile times ended in 1914, with World War I as a marker. The beginning of sorrows which came in that year gave painful notification to this old world that it had now entered its “time of the end”. It was the beginning of the end for it. (Matt. 24:7, 8; Dan. 11:40; 12:4) Yes, but it also notified us that the Theocratic government of a new and upright world, the promised kingdom of God by his Son Jesus Christ, had been born in the heavens. Why should not God and Christ be glad? Why should not all lovers of God and of a New World government bringing righteousness, peace and life be glad? We are!
3. Why mainly did his Son come to earth? Fulfilling what prophecy?
3 Over nineteen centuries ago God’s Ruler for this government was born as a human child, as the Messianic “Son of David”. He had come to earth to prove his right to the Government. Now after this long period of waiting for God’s due time, the Theocratic government has been born, and the authority and responsibility for carrying it on has been laid upon the shoulder of the installed King, Jesus Christ. Eight centuries before Christ’s birth Isaiah’s prophecy foretold it and told of his taking up the Government, in these cheering words: “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of Jehovah of hosts will perform this.”—Isa. 9:6, 7, Am. Stan. Ver.
4. What must birth of the Kingdom have? Why? Who are they?
4 The birth of the royal Son of God had its witnesses: Not only God’s angels, who rejoiced over it with the words, “Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will,” but also hard-working men, the shepherds who heard the angel’s announcement and went to Bethlehem, King David’s city, to verify it. (Luke 2:8-20, Douay) But none of the tradition-bound priests and Levites at the temple in Jerusalem were witnesses, although they showed the evil-designing King Herod the prophecy of where the child was to be born. (Matt. 2:1-16) Important as was the Son’s birth, the birth of God’s kingdom by his Son is of far greater importance. Hence it, too, deserves to have its witnesses on earth. More than that, it must have its witnesses on earth, in order to fulfill Jesus’ own prophecy concerning the end of this world: “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” (Matt. 24:14) Whom has God raised up to be his witnesses concerning the Kingdom, The Theocracy established in 1914? The lowly followers of Jesus Christ for whom he spoke those words of prophetic command. They correspond with the honest men and women at the time Jesus was born, the God-fearing shepherds, the aged Simeon, the prophetess Anna, and faithful Elizabeth.
5. Are worldly rulers pleased at the birth? What can they not prevent?
5 The political rulers of earth today are not pleased over the birth of God’s kingdom, no more than murderous Herod was pleased over Jesus’ birth at Bethlehem. So the rulers and their hangers-on and supporters try to suppress the witness of the establishment of the Kingdom. But by Jesus Christ, Almighty God foretold that a Kingdom witness had to be given, and no opposing power in heaven or on earth can prevent the witness in all the inhabited earth for a testimony to all nations. Highly favored are all those men and women today whom God raises up and uses to have a part in fulfilling the prophecy concerning the witness to the established Kingdom! Jehovah’s witnesses of today are happy to bear the hatred and persecution from all peoples and nations in order to be his Kingdom witnesses.
EXTENDING ITS SWAY DESPITE OPPOSITION
6. Why must the Kingdom continue increasing its sway?
6 The witness given since 1914 has steadily increased the sway of the Kingdom in the lives of men of good will. It could not have been otherwise. Over God’s own name the prophecy long ago declared: “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end,” and this must come true, though now the King rules in the midst of multitudinous enemies. The irresistible zeal of Jehovah of hosts will never let his prophetic Word be shoved back unperformed into his face and the increase of the government of his Son be blocked successfully. The Kingdom witness since 1914 must go on increasing. It must be made known more and more throughout the earth that the Supreme Governing Power, Jehovah, has taken his great power and has begun to reign over earth by putting his Son on the throne as his anointed King. (Rev. 11:15-18) Through this knowledge spread abroad by his witnesses the people of good will everywhere can have the opportunity to know of the only Righteous Government and can gather around it as the only hope of mankind. They can give it their unqualified allegiance before Jehovah’s King destroys all his foes and opposers in the coming “battle of that great day of God Almighty”.
7. With what must its increase today correspond? By means of what?
7 The increase of the sympathizers and supporters of Jehovah’s reigning King must correspond with the increase of his followers in the first century after he ascended to God’s right hand after having proved his right to the Kingdom by his loving obedience to death. This increase will be, not by might of armies using fire and sword, not by power, but by Jehovah’s spirit, his invincible active force. The love in men and women devoted to his King and kingdom is something stronger than any devilish or human power can overcome; and it draws and holds them to his King and kingdom regardless of all the hostility that their stand for God and his kingdom arouses.—Zech. 4:6.
8. How was Caesar implicated with the King in the first century?
8 In the first century believing men and women had to vow their allegiance to Jesus Christ as God’s King in the face of the dominant world power, the Roman empire, whose Caesars were deified for worship. It was actually a representative of that Roman empire, Governor Pontius Pilate, who gave the order for Jesus Christ to be nailed to the torture stake. Because Jesus preached God’s kingdom to which he had been called and anointed, his religious enemies, the priests, scribes, Sadducees and Pharisees, accused him of sedition to the Roman governor. The inspired Record says: “They began to accuse him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that he himself is Christ a King.” And when Pilate made efforts to release Jesus, “the Jews cried out saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar.” It was this Jesus who two days before had said to his religious opposers: “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.”—Luke 23:1, 2; John 19:12; Matt. 22:21.
9, 10. (a) Despite misrepresentation and opposition what increase is recorded? (b) By what was the Kingdom proclamation spread?
9 Because his religious enemies did not want Jesus as God’s Messiah and King, they used his preaching of God’s kingdom for an excuse to accuse him of being seditious against Caesar and a menace to the state. This willful misrepresentation and this combined opposition of Caesar and religious forces brought Jesus’ death, but did it prevent the adherents of God’s risen King from increasing? Did it silence the preaching of the kingdom of heaven? No! The next month, on the day of Pentecost, God’s spirit was poured out upon the King’s loyal followers, and the Kingdom proclamation was revived and carried on with greater force than during Jesus’ time and in many languages. That same day of Pentecost those who declared themselves in favor of God’s kingdom as administered by his King Christ Jesus increased to 3,000. Religious opposition mounted and arrests of the Kingdom preachers followed, and yet the number of the King’s adherents rose to 5,000. (Acts 2:41; 4:4) Later the martyrdom of Stephen set off one of the worst persecutions there at that center of religion, Jerusalem. The apostles were driven underground, but thousands of the King’s followers were scattered.
10 Jehovah and his anointed King in heaven had reason to laugh at these efforts of the religious opposers to silence the Kingdom proclamation. Why? Because, as the account tells us, “they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word.” “Those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to none except Jews.” (Acts 8:4; 11:19, Rev. Stan. Ver.) In the throes of this religious inquisition the great pusher of persecution, Saul of Tarsus himself, was miraculously won over to allegiance to Christ the King and became one of the apostolic Kingdom publishers.
11. Is the Kingdom nationalistic? What does God’s promise show?
11 But Jehovah’s kingdom by Christ is nothing nationalistic. It is not Jewish or to be confined to the Jews only. The patriarch Abraham was not a Jew, and when Jehovah told that faithful man about the blessing that was to come to men through the Theocratic government of his King, he said: “In thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” “Thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” (Gen. 12:3; 22:17, 18) The Seed of Abraham is primarily Jesus Christ. The blessing through him is, first of all, that of bringing believers into a righteous standing with God where they may enjoy his favor and have the prospect of eternal life in his righteous new world. On this matter the apostle Paul reasons in these words: “And Scripture, foreseeing that God would pronounce the Gentiles righteous as the result of faith, foretold the Good News to Abraham in the words—‘Through thee all the Gentiles shall be blessed.’”—Gal. 3:8, 16, 20th Cent. N. T.
12. What course did the extending of the blessing take? Why?
12 The life-giving blessing through Abraham’s Seed, Jesus Christ, must therefore be spread to all nations, Jew and Gentile alike. Properly the blessing went first to the Jewish descendants of Abraham. But when that nation followed their religious leaders and turned down the blessing because it came through the Christ who had been nailed to a torture stake, Jehovah God acted upon his words to Abraham. He extended the blessing through Jesus Christ to the Gentile or non-Jewish nations. God is no respecter of persons as based on earthly nationality. Our possessing faith like that of Abraham is what counts with God and wins his blessing through Christ.—Gal. 3:9, 26-29.
THE ENEMY’S FAVORITE TRICK
13. What service did Peter and Paul render toward belief by Gentiles?
13 The apostle Peter was the one God used to take the key of knowledge and unlock the door of Kingdom opportunities to the Gentile nations, but it was the apostle Paul who became the foremost apostle to the Gentiles. Paul is the only apostle who the Holy Scriptures tell us got to Rome. (Acts 10; Rom. 11:13; Gal. 3:7-9) By a divine vision Paul was called to bear the witness into Europe. It was in what is today called Greece, the cradle of democracy, that Paul was accused as a seditionist for preaching God’s kingdom by Christ.
14. Where, how and by whom was Paul accused of sedition?
14 After Paul had cast out a demon from a spirit-medium, the demons caused their religious dupes to drag Paul and Silas before the political rulers with this charge: “These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, and teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans.” A miracle of God released Paul and Silas from the dungeon. That was at Philippi. But at Thessalonica the religious opposers stirred up a mob which cried out against Paul and Silas to the political rulers: “These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; . . . and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.” Back again in Palestine, when before Caesar’s court in Caesarea, prisoner Paul was accused by his religious persecutors in these words of their spokesman: “We have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes: who also hath gone about to profane the temple: whom we took, and would have judged according to our law.” But the apostle Paul would not submit to having them judge him according to their religious canon law. In full accord with his rights as a Roman citizen he reminded the court that he stood before Caesar’s judgment seat, and not before a religious judicial court. So in the interests of preaching the gospel he appealed to Caesar.—Acts 16:20, 21; 17:6, 7; 24:5, 6; 25:9-12.
15. Did such persecution curtail preaching the good news? Why?
15 For two years before and for two years after Paul got to Rome he was detained in custody. But did the proclamation of the good news suffer curtailment because of such persecution against him and his fellow witnesses? No; for Paul used these circumstances to give a witness to rulers, to his custodians and to all whom he could invite. He accomplished a far-reaching witness, so that he wrote from his house of detention at Rome: “Brothers, I want you to realize that what has happened to me has actually served to forward the Good News. It has even become evident, not only to all the Imperial Guard, but to everyone else, that it is for Christ’s sake that I am in chains.” “The Good News to which you listened, which has been proclaimed among all created things under Heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.” Paul followed his own instruction: “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season.”—Phil. 1:12, 13 and Col. 1:23, 20th Cent. N.T.; 2 Tim. 4:2.
16. What parting command of Jesus applies now? Who will obey it?
16 The followers of the King Jesus Christ obeyed his parting orders: “All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth. Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” No man-made government of any nation can countermand that authoritative command or successfully impede its execution by the King’s followers. His command applies to us now at the end of this world and its nations, and we will obey it for the increase of the interests of his government.—Matt. 28:18-20, Am. Stan. Ver.
17. How was the enemy’s same trick tried in Esther’s day? Results?
17 Even before Christ’s day it was the favorite trick of the enemies of Jehovah God to accuse his faithful people of political crimes so as to implicate them with worldly governments and bring the power of the state down on them. In the days of Queen Esther this wicked device was used by the false worshiper Haman to accomplish the complete destruction of Jehovah’s chosen people from all parts of the Persian empire. Said Haman to Emperor Xerxes: “There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the peoples throughout all the provinces of your kingdom, and their laws are different from every other people; neither do they observe the king’s laws; therefore it is not fitting to leave them alone. If it please the king, let it be prescribed that they be destroyed.” (Esther 3:7-9, An Amer. Trans.) Haman’s malicious scheme failed to wipe out or even diminish Jehovah’s people. It resulted in himself being exposed as against the emperor’s interests and getting hanged. Thus those who now try to hinder the increase of God’s kingdom work out their own ruin.
18. Why do the nations now stand faced with destruction?
18 Today the faithful announcers of God’s kingdom by Christ face political movements and organizations on a hemispheric or global scale. That it should be proclaimed by his witnesses that Jehovah took up again the reins of earth’s government in 1914 and brought the kingdom of his Son to birth does not please the political rulers. They have other plans for dominating earth’s peoples. Under the religious guidance of the clergy of Christendom the political element may pray, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven”; but their wars for world domination and their plans for future control of the earth belie their prayers and prove they do not want God’s kingdom by his Son to supplant them and give the people a righteous, Theocratic government. The nations stand in fear and mutual distrust of one another. Anxieties are expressed that they will exterminate one another in further global war with secretly invented weapons of mass destruction. The nations do stand faced with destruction, but it is for refusing God’s kingdom by Christ, the only rightful government for our globe. Their destruction will come shortly by an act of God which was foreshadowed in the global flood of Noah’s day. By Jehovah’s witnesses he is now giving all peoples and nations fair and ample warning of it.
19, 20. Who show themselves friends of this world? How? With what fate?
19 The religious organizations of Christendom have linked their fate with the political powers of earth and will be wiped out with them by God’s act as His enemies. It is written: “You renegades! Do you not know that the friendship of the world means enmity with God? So whoever wishes to be the world’s friend declares himself God’s enemy.”—Jas. 4:4, An Amer. Trans.
20 The religious friends of this world are enemies of God’s kingdom by Christ. They show whose friends they are by working for the further miserable existence of this old world and by trying to hinder the increase of Jehovah’s Theocracy by Christ. Since the birth of his kingdom in 1914 new political factors have come to positions of world prominence and power. Those which have survived till now as dominant figures are the United Nations, the successor to the short-lived League of Nations, and atheistic Communism.
21. How is the world divided? What position do Jehovah’s witnesses take, and with what result certain?
21 To date the United Nations has failed to cement the old world. It is split into two blocs, with the Big Three championing the Western bloc and Communist Russia dictating for the Eastern bloc. The fires of World War II have died down, but a “cold war” is raging between both blocs and there is feverish maneuvering for power. In the midst of this world situation stand Jehovah’s witnesses, pointing neither east nor west, but heavenward, heralding His kingdom by Christ as the divinely authorized government, the only government with adequate ability to introduce a righteous, peaceful, healthful new world, the only government with power to save the people from annihilation in the world catastrophe of Armageddon. For this neutral position toward the deadly conflicts of this old world and for their Christian devotion and allegiance to God’s New World government by his Son Jehovah’s witnesses are hated by all nations and suffer persecution at the hands of the religious friends of the old world. Yet, despite this, their cause is bound to increase and win.