Jehovah Has Become King
Has God always ruled the earth? What will his kingdom mean for mankind?
FOR many years the ancient people of Israel slaved under tyranny to Egypt. Its Pharaoh even embarked on a policy of genocide to wipe them out. What a time of rejoicing it was when, on Nisan 14, 1513 B.C., they marched out of Egypt! Fittingly God commanded them to commemorate this date. Although Pharaoh not long thereafter put them once more in jeopardy at the Red Sea, momentarily, and they themselves had to war to take possession of the land of Canaan, that date did mark the turning point, the beginning of their full deliverance.—Exodus, chaps. 1-15.
In modern times other peoples annually commemorate other dates as turning points in their quest for freedom. For the people of the United States it is July 4, 1776; for those of Brazil it is November 15, 1899; for those of China it is the “double ten,” October 10, 1911.
But the most important date for all human creation is 1914 (about October 1), for that marked the greatest turning point in all human history. It will eventually result in giving all men of good will toward God freedom not only from political tyrants, but from all forms of tyranny, by unseen demons, by economic giants, by powerful religious organizations, and even freedom from sin, sickness, pain and death. How so? Because from that year on the prophetic words apply: “Sing to Jehovah a new song. . . . Say among the nations: ‘Jehovah himself has become king.’”—Ps. 96:1, 10.
JEHOVAH AS KING
But perhaps you will ask, Has not God always been King—from the very time he had at least one subject, his only-begotten Son? Yes, that is true regarding his heavenly dominions but not of his earthly one. While Adam and Eve remained obedient God’s rule did directly extend to this earth, but not since their rebellion. Since then there has been no direct rule of God upon this earth save in the tiny area held by the nation of Israel and while its kings did “sit upon Jehovah’s throne.” These served as deputy kings for Jehovah as it were. With the overthrow of the last of these kings, Zedekiah, began “the appointed times of the nations.”—1 Chron. 29:23; Luke 21:24.
True, whenever his purposes have been involved Jehovah has exercised rule “in the kingdom of men,” maneuvering men and nations according to his sovereign will. But such men and nations have not been his deputies nor his kingdoms. Rather, they have been the deputies and kingdoms of Satan the Devil. For this reason that one is termed “the ruler of this world,” and “the god of this system of things,” in whose power “the whole world is lying.” Had it been otherwise Jesus would not have taught us to pray for God’s kingdom to come.—Dan. 4:17, AS; John 16:11; 2 Cor. 4:4; 1 John 5:19.
Why has God tolerated rebellion upon this earth, and that for so long? He has permitted it only—and that temporarily—because of Satan’s boast that he could turn all men away from God. (Job, chaps. 1, 2) At his appointed time Jehovah God takes action, for he cannot forever permit these conditions without, in effect, denying his sovereignty, which it is impossible for him to do. (2 Tim. 2:13) When he displays his sovereignty by establishing direct rule toward this earth, the prophetic words apply: “Jehovah himself has become king!” “Yahweh hath become king.”—Ps. 97:1; Ro.
Failure on the part of most translators of the Bible to appreciate these truths accounts for the fact that most versions render the psalmist’s words, “Jehovah [or, The Lord] reigns!” (AS, AV, RS, AT) And so we also find that Biblical commentators generally apply these words either to God’s eternal rulership or to certain annual celebrations of the Jews. However, such renderings and explanations are neither in line with the original Hebrew word used nor with the circumstances that called forth Psalm 96.
The original Hebrew word here rendered by so many “reigns” does not mean a continuous or eternal reigning but refers to the beginning of a reign. That is why Bible writers used it in regard to the beginning of the reigns of Adonijah, Jehoshaphat and Hezekiah.—1 Ki. 1:18; 22:41; 2 Chron. 29:1.
That the beginning of a reign is indicated can also be seen by noting the circumstances that caused King David, for one, to exclaim, “Jehovah himself has become king!” The sacred ark of the covenant had been taken by priests into battle to assure Israel victory, as though it were a magic charm that would work miracles even though the Israelites were under God’s displeasure. To the dismay of the Israelites, the Philistines captured it, but the latter were only too glad to get rid of it because of the havoc it wrought among them. For years it then lodged at the homes of two Levites, Abinadab and Obed-edom, until King David directed bringing it to Mount Zion. Because this ark was a symbol of Jehovah’s presence, David could now shout that Jehovah himself had begun ruling on the royal mountain.—1 Chron. 16:7-36.
Jehovah God reigns by and through his Son Jesus Christ. So, when Jesus ascended into heaven, forty days after his resurrection, God said to him: “Sit at my right hand until I place your enemies as a stool for your feet.” When that time came the prophetic words were fulfilled: “I, even I, have installed my king upon Zion, my holy mountain. . . . You are my son; I, today, I have become your father. Ask of me, that I may give nations as your inheritance and the ends of the earth as your own possession.”—Ps. 110:1; 2:6-8.
In keeping with these prophecies Jesus Christ likened himself to a nobleman who went to a far country to receive a kingdom and then returned, thereby clearly tying in the beginning of God’s kingdom with the return of Christ. When was he to return? In answer to that question Jesus gave the prophecies recorded at Matthew 24, 25, Mark 13 and Luke 21. Among the various evidences marking the sign of his return Jesus listed wars, famine, earthquakes and pestilence. He also foretold that lawlessness would greatly increase and that “this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for the purpose of a witness to all the nations.” The facts show that all these words of Jesus are seeing a most striking fulfillment since the year 1914.
Since that year we are also seeing the fulfillment of Paul’s prophecy: “But know this, that in the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, . . . without self-control, fierce, . . . lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God, having a form of godly devotion but proving false to its power.”—2 Tim. 3:1-5.
Many scoff, ridicule and mock when such things are brought to their attention, but they cannot point to another period of time in world history when these prophecies have had such thorough-going fulfillment. In fact, their very ridicule is further evidence, for it also was foretold: “In the last days there will come ridiculers with their ridicule, proceeding according to their own desires and saying: ‘Where is this promised presence of his? Why, from the day our forefathers fell asleep in death, all things are continuing exactly as from creation’s beginning.’”—2 Pet. 3:3, 4.
KINGDOM ESTABLISHED IN THE HEAVENS
That 1914 indeed marks the year Jehovah became King is conclusively proved by the voices in heaven that John in his apocalyptic vision heard: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will rule as king for ever and ever.” “We thank you, Jehovah God, the Almighty, the one who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and begun ruling as king. But the nations became wrathful, and your own wrath came, and the appointed time . . . to bring to ruin those ruining the earth.” Without doubt, 1914 marks the time when the nations became wrathful as never before.—Rev. 11:15-18.
What actually took place in the heavens at that time the apostle John goes on to tell. After introducing God’s heavenly organization of angelic creatures under the symbol of “a woman arrayed with the sun,” and Satan the Devil as “a great fiery-colored dragon,” he describes the beginning of God’s kingdom as the birth of a son “who is destined to shepherd all the nations with an iron rod.”
Since Satan had been ruler of this wicked world or system of things without any interruption since 607 B.C., it is not to be expected that he would let the birth of God’s kingdom take place without putting up a fight. And so we read that “war broke out in heaven: Michael [Jesus Christ] and his angels battled with the dragon, and the dragon and its angels battled but it did not prevail, neither was a place found for them any longer in heaven. So down the great dragon was hurled, the original serpent, the one called Devil and Satan, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth; he was hurled down to the earth, and his angels were hurled down with him.” That this conflict was a real fight can be seen from Daniel 10:13, which tells of an instance where one of God’s angels was held up for twenty-one days by one of Satan’s demons.—Rev. 12:7-9.
Just how long this war in heaven lasted the Bible does not say. However, in view of what other prophecies reveal about Jehovah and his Son coming to the spiritual temple of God for judgment in 1918, it follows that the war in heaven must have been over at least by then. That victory meant gladness for those in the heavens but “woe for the earth.”—Rev. 12:12.
But why, it may be asked, since God’s time had come for him to extend his direct rule toward the earth, did not Michael and his angels press their attack against Satan and his demons and rid the earth of their baneful influence? Primarily for four reasons, as the Scriptures explicitly show: (1) To have Jehovah’s name and kingdom made known to all the earth. (2) To permit God’s people, who had fallen into error, to recover themselves, clean up and become active in God’s service. (3) To enable men of good will toward God to heed the call: “Get out of [antitypical Babylon, or Satan’s world organization], my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues.” (4) To warn all the wicked so that when they suffer destruction at God’s hands at Armageddon they will know it is from God and that he is supreme.—Ex. 9:16; Isa. 12:1; Rev. 18:4; 16:14, 16.
THE KINGDOM RULE ON EARTH
With the destruction of all the wicked on earth and with Satan and his demons cast into the bottomless pit for a thousand years “that he might not mislead the nations any more,” the Kingdom rule will bring to this earth joy, freedom from all bondage and fulfillment of the desire of every righteous heart. Then God’s will will be done on earth as in heaven. Then the earth will “be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah as the waters are covering the very sea.” Then “the meek ones themselves will possess the earth and they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.” Then God “will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be any more.”—Rev. 20:3; Isa. 11:9; Ps. 37:11; Rev. 21:4.
More than that, under God-rule mankind will gradually get rid of all imperfection and sinfulness. Then men will no more groan as did the apostle Paul: “For what I wish, this I do not practice; but what I hate is what I do. Miserable man that I am!” What a blessing freedom from that frustration will be!—Rom. 7:15, 24.
Surely the good news that all these blessings are right at the door is cause for singing. Those who have the sure hope of these things are now publishing it far and wide in some 175 lands and territories, using printed publications in over 125 tongues. They bring this good news to the people by word of mouth, printed page, radio and television. They talk about it on the streets, at the doorsteps and in the homes of the people as well as at their Kingdom Halls.
So let all men of good will toward God take heart. Let them not grow apprehensive because of the failures of men, nor blindly hope against hope that somehow, sometime men will bring righteousness and peace to this earth. Let them not permit religious prejudice to close their ears to this beautiful song that Jehovah himself has begun to rule as King and that therefore these blessings are imminent. Rather, let them put their trust in Jehovah and his kingdom. Let them learn this new song themselves and then join in singing it that still others may hear. All those doing so become the happiest of all persons on earth today and have the prospect of enjoying superlative happiness throughout eternity in God’s happy new world.