World Ruler Out of the “House of Bread”
“The remaining ones of Jacob must become in the midst of many peoples like dew from Jehovah . . . among the nations, in the midst of many peoples, like a lion among the beasts of a forest.”—Mic. 5:7, 8.
1. How must the qualities of the dew and of a lion be true of a righteous ruler in a corrupt world?
WHAT is more gentle and refreshing in its falling and forming than the dew? What is more mighty and courageous among the fierce beasts than the lion? What a contrast there is between the dew and the lion! So much so that one would hardly associate them together. Yet, for all their oppositeness, they can make a happy combination and a necessary combination. A wise and mighty king of ancient times once said: “The raging of a king is a growling like that of a maned young lion, but his good will is like the dew upon the vegetation.” (Prov. 19:12) In this corrupt world a king of righteous principles must be as courageous and fierce as a lion against the workers of wickedness. But he lets his good will and approval descend as softly and refreshingly as the dew upon his loyal subjects who are striving against wicked fellow men.
2. According to his statements in the prophecy of Hosea regarding Israel, how will mankind at last find such a needed ruler in Jehovah?
2 The world of mankind needs desperately a king or ruler of that sort. Mankind will at last find such a ruler in the great King of the universe, the God who bears the distinguishing name Jehovah. In the Bible record of his faithful dealings with his chosen people while they were still in his favor, he said: “I shall become like the dew to Israel. He will blossom like the lily, and will strike his roots like [forest-covered] Lebanon.” (Hos. 14:5) When he was angry with this same people and was about to cast them off, he said: “I shall be like a young lion to Ephraim and like a maned young lion to the house of Judah. I, I myself shall tear to pieces and I shall go and carry off, and there will be no deliverer.” (Hos. 5:14; also Ho 13:7, 8) He is impartial in his justice, but is also merciful to lovers of righteousness who sincerely strive to do what is right. He has promised and arranged to give mankind a kingdom of undeviating righteousness and of mercy and tender compassion.
3. (a) With what are men preoccupied today, and what big fact about government do they therefore ignore? (b) What fact should make this government feel closer to us humans?
3 Today the nations are preoccupied solely with the government of men by men. They think that the big choice lies between democratic government of Western style and Communist government of the Eastern style, although some try to keep to the middle of the road in government policy. The politically minded people of this world never give any thought to the government of God. They ignore the greatest fact in connection with the subject of government: that the Governor of the universe, Jehovah God the Creator, has a government for the earth and its inhabitants. He has already put in power the Ruler for this perfect government over long-misruled mankind. It is not a government unable to understand and sympathize with human problems. Because of God’s appointed Ruler, this government has a close flesh-and-blood tie with us people. Hundreds of years beforehand, in a prophecy by Micah, Jehovah God foretold the very birthplace of this appointed Ruler. It is the most famous birthplace on earth. This makes it plain that the Ruler whom God appoints over mankind was himself once one of us! Once a man! That fact should make this government of God’s provision feel closer to us, more intimate to us, than a mere government by holy angels.
4. What government announcement did Jehovah make in Micah 5:2, and to whom was its fulfillment to be of importance?
4 Foreseeing the dire need of righteous government for oppressed mankind, Jehovah God made this government announcement through Micah (5:2): “And you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, the one too little to get to be among the thousands of Judah, from you there will come out to me the one who is to become ruler in Israel, whose origin is from early times, from the days of time indefinite.” Micah said that 350 or more years after King David of Jerusalem was born, in 1107 B.C., in Bethlehem in the tribal territory of Judah. Micah focused the attention of the entire universe upon Bethlehem as the town where a royal descendant of David would be born, who would be a permanent heir to his throne according to God’s covenant with David for an everlasting kingdom in David’s family. (2 Sam. 7:11-16; Matt. 2:4-6; John 7:41, 46) This was to be an event of importance to not only all the earth but also all heaven.
5. In keeping with the importance of the event, how was the Ruler’s birth announced, and to whom?
5 So it was simply in keeping with the importance of the event that, when Jesus was born as a descendant of King David in Bethlehem, his birth was announced to God-fearing shepherds by a glorious angel, who said: “Have no fear, for, look! I am declaring to you good news of a great joy that all the people will have, because there was born to you today a Savior, who is Christ the Lord, in David’s city.” After this announcement, “suddenly there came to be with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying: ‘Glory in the heights above to God, and upon earth peace among men of good will.’”—Luke 2:4-14.
6. How is it true that the origin of this Ruler is “from early times, from the days of time indefinite”?
6 Those very angels who thus praised God at the birth of Jesus Christ had known him up in heaven as the only-begotten, firstborn Son of God. This fact is evident from the prophecy of Micah 5:2, as it refers to Jesus as the one “whose origin is from early times, from the days of time indefinite.” So that birth in Bethlehem was not the start of him. His life had been miraculously transferred from heaven to earth, from the spirit realm to the human realm, in order that, by natural ties, he might become the everlasting heir to David’s throne over Israel. He had his “origin from early times” in heaven, from when God created him to be the “firstborn of all creation,” “the beginning of the creation by God.” (Col. 1:15; Rev. 3:14) There was no earlier time for creation’s beginning than the creation of this only-begotten Son of God. No date for this is given in God’s written Word. Thus it remains in the indefinite past for us, so that this Son of God who was to become “ruler in Israel” is “from the days of time indefinite.”
7. Such long heavenly experience with Jehovah God should result in what regarding this Ruler, and how was Bethlehem seemingly not in line for such a birth there as His?
7 Because of his enjoying so long a past in heavenly association with Jehovah God, what a wealth of wisdom and experience this Ruler who was born in Bethlehem would have, to become the best ruler whom God could place over mankind! And just to think that someone so great should be born in Bethlehem Ephrathah, a town so small and insignificant as not to be reckoned among the thousands or the families of the tribe of Judah! And besides being born in that unimpressive town, he was born in a stable and laid in a manger as his bassinet. (Luke 2:7, 12) But how honored Bethlehem was!
8. In David’s day, whose throne was stationed in Jerusalem, and why would it have been no real elevation for God’s Son to be put upon that throne?
8 In a palace on Mount Zion in Jerusalem King David sat upon a material throne called “Jehovah’s throne,” inasmuch as David was Jehovah’s representative on the throne. (1 Chron. 29:23) But Jesus Christ never sat on King David’s throne on Mount Zion, although by his birth in Bethlehem he had a natural human right to that throne. However, since Jesus was from heaven, then if he had actually been made to sit on David’s throne on Mount Zion, that would have been no real elevation for him as the Son of God. Even on David’s literal throne over Israel Jesus Christ would have been a “little lower than angels,” whereas in heaven he had been firstborn among them. (Heb. 2:9; Ps. 8:4, 5) It was a humiliation for this Son of God to have his life transferred from heaven’s glorious realm down to this earth and to be born as a human creature, even though in the royal line of David. (Phil. 2:5-9) Besides that, when he was on this earth as a man, he was greatly humiliated by the enemies of God’s kingdom.
STRUCK ON THE CHEEK
9. Whose kingdom did Jesus Christ preach, but how was his preaching misrepresented?
9 Constantly Jesus Christ preached of the kingdom, not David’s earthly kingdom over Israel, but God’s kingdom, “the kingdom of the heavens.” (Matt. 4:17; Mark 1:14, 15) If anyone has a right to kingship over all mankind, it is God. But for preaching God’s kingdom, which was foretold in Bible prophecies, Jesus Christ was accused of being a seditionist, an insurrectionist against the empire of the pagan Caesars of Rome. But Micah’s prophecy had indicated that Jesus the Ruler out of Bethlehem would be dishonored and mistreated.
10, 11. (a) What mistreatment for this Ruler did Micah 5:1 foretell? (b) How was this fulfilled in the case of Jesus Christ?
10 Right before telling of the Ruler’s birth in that town, Micah said to God’s organization of his people under danger of an invasion: “At this time you make cuttings upon yourself, O daughter of an invasion; a siege he has laid against us. With the rod they will strike upon the cheek the judge of Israel.” (Mic. 5:1) When Jesus Christ was on earth as a man, the rod of human authority was used to strike him insultingly upon his cheek. For preaching God’s heavenly kingdom, which he had been anointed to preach by God’s spirit, Jesus was arrested and brought before the highest religious court of Jerusalem, presided over by the high priest of Israel. Here Jesus was actually struck. Of this we read:
11 “Jesus kept silent. So the high priest said to him: ‘By the living God I put you under oath to tell us whether you are the Christ the Son of God!’ Jesus said to him: ‘You yourself said it. Yet I say to you men, From henceforth you will see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of power and coming on the clouds of heaven.’ Then the high priest ripped his outer garments, saying: ‘He has blasphemed! What further need do we have of witnesses? See! Now you have heard the blasphemy. What is your opinion?’ They returned answer: ‘He is liable to death.’ Then they spit into his face and hit him with their fists. Others slapped him in the face, saying: ‘Prophesy to us, you Christ. Who is it that struck you?’”—Matt. 26:59-68.
12. How was the force of that stroke on the cheek made heavier, and whose interests were thus served by this stroke?
12 The force of the insulting stroke on the cheek of Israel’s future judge was made heavier when the religious authorities handed Jesus over to the Roman governor and finally got their way with Pontius Pilate by having Jesus nailed on a stake to die in disgrace, like one accursed by God. (Deut. 21:22, 23; John 18:38 to 19:37) Those religious authorities of Jerusalem were thus serving the interests of the prophetic “king of the north” at that time. (Dan. 11:15, 20-22) But they could not prevail against this Jesus, who, God had decreed, should be the “judge of Israel,” “the ruler in Israel.”
13. (a) According to Peter, how did God prevent their prevailing against the future “judge of Israel”? (b) In comparison with David’s throne, to what did Jehovah elevate Jesus?
13 Simon Peter, who was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ, said to a soldier, a centurion, in the service of Rome but on duty in Palestine: “We are witnesses of all the things [Jesus] did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem; but they also did away with him by hanging him on a stake. God raised this One up on the third day and granted him to become manifest, not to all the people, but to witnesses appointed beforehand by God, to us, who ate and drank with him after his rising from the dead. Also, he ordered us to preach to the people and to give a thorough witness that this is the One decreed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness, that everyone putting faith in him gets forgiveness of sins through his name.” (Acts 10:38-43) According to this, Jehovah God elevated Jesus Christ to a position higher than to David’s material throne on Mount Zion.
14. Thus what did Jehovah make Jesus with relation to King David?
14 Jehovah God elevated Jesus Christ to his own right hand in the heavens, to Jehovah’s literal heavenly throne. By this action he made Jesus Christ the Son of David to become the Lord over David, just as it had been foretold in Psalm 110:1, 2.—Acts 2:29-36.
15, 16. (a) What is more deserving of mention than Jesus’ human birth in Bethlehem, and how does 1914 therefore deserve to be remembered? (b) What did Psalm 2:1-9 have to say regarding the Ruler’s installation?
15 How wonderful all of this is! This made it possible for Micah’s prophecy concerning the great Ruler out of little Bethlehem to be fulfilled on a larger scale, in our own time. Fully worthy of mention in universal history was the Ruler’s human birth in Bethlehem nineteen centuries ago. Yet his coming out of a Greater Bethlehem in the capacity of an installed Ruler in the established kingdom of God in heaven is still more worthy of mention. It is an event of greater importance to the universe, and especially to mankind, whose blood and flesh the Ruler once shared. Timed by accurate Bible prophecies, this far more important event occurred in our own generation, in the year 1914. Far more than being remembered as the year when the disastrous first world war broke out, 1914 deserves rather to be remembered as the year for the end of the Gentile Times or “the appointed times of the nations” and for the birth of God’s kingdom in the heavens, as pictorially foretold in Revelation, chapter twelve. Concerning the worldly nations that then got into a tumult and concerning the kings of the earth that then took a stand against Jehovah and his newly installed Christ or Anointed One, King David long ago said prophetically, in Psalm 2:1-9:
16 “Jehovah himself will hold them in derision. At that time he will speak to them in his anger . . . , saying: ‘I, even I, have installed my king upon Zion, my holy mountain.’ Let me [the Christ] refer to the decree of Jehovah; he has said to me: ‘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. You will break them with an iron scepter, as though a potter’s vessel you will dash them to pieces.’”
17, 18. (a) At his installation how did Jesus come out of a Greater Bethlehem? (b) According to Jesus’ own statements, what greater bread does all mankind need?
17 When the foretold Ruler was installed in the Kingdom at God’s right hand, then he came out to Jehovah God from a Bethlehem of an importance greater than that of earthly Bethlehem. The name Bethlehem means House of Bread. Ephrathah, with which Bethlehem is connected, means Fruitful; Fertility. Judah, in the territory of which Bethlehem Ephrathah was located, means [Jehovah-] Lauded. (Gen. 35:19; 29:35; 49:8) For mankind that House of Bread means much, yes, life itself. Mankind needs a minister, a ruler from that Greater House of Bread. What is needed for mankind to live is not mere bread of wheat, barley or rye. Jesus Christ himself emphasized that fact, for, at the close of his forty-day fast, he refused to make miraculous bread for himself, but repeated the words of his heavenly Father and said: “Not by bread alone does man live but by every expression of Jehovah’s mouth does man live.”—Deut. 8:3; Matt. 4:1-4.
18 When Jesus came to earth as a man he came bringing the expressions of Jehovah’s mouth, which are life-giving. Also, he said to those who came looking for perishable earthly bread: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; if anyone eats of this bread he will live forever; and, for a fact, the bread that I shall give is my flesh in behalf of the life of the world.”—John 6:51.
19. How was it possible for Jesus to come out of a Greater House of Bread for mankind in 1914, and how do the names Ephrathah and Judah associated with Bethlehem reflect on this House of Bread?
19 When Jesus returned to heaven and reappeared in God’s presence, he presented the value of his fleshly human sacrifice in behalf of the dying race of mankind. So now, after being installed as King in 1914, Jesus could come forth from a House of Bread, a Bread Supply, that can give to all who eat of it by faith on earth everlasting life in God’s new world. The heavenly House of Bread is all-necessary for mankind. They absolutely need Jehovah’s Ruler from there. It is a fruitful place, a fertile place, as indicated by the associated name Ephrathah; and it produces and holds forth much life-sustaining fruitage. As Bethlehem Ephrathah was located in the territory of Judah, so the House of Bread is located in the holy heavens, where Jehovah is lauded by all his hosts of angels.
20. How is this Greater Bethlehem out of which Jesus Christ comes like the earthly Bethlehem in relationship to the thousands of Judah?
20 Chief among those heavenly praisers of Jehovah God is the Ruler out of Bethlehem. As Ruler he will teach all his subjects on earth to praise Jehovah too. He comes forth to Jehovah God as the representative of a small group, a representative not of earthly Bethlehem but of the house of his spiritual brothers. These are the 144,000 footstep followers who become joint heirs with him in the heavenly Kingdom. (Rev. 7:4-8; 14:1, 3) Among the ten thousand times ten thousand of heavenly hosts, such a group is small indeed, almost too small to be thought worth numbering among the vast host of heavenly praisers. (Dan. 7:9, 10) Yet this small group made up of the Ruler Jesus Christ and his 144,000 joint heirs all become the most important body of people in the heavens. They become God’s capital organization over all His universal organization. They will serve in bringing the “bread of life” to mankind that is starving for eternal life. (John 6:48-50) Jesus Christ, the Ruler out of this Greater Bethlehem, will thus fulfill an important role among the countless thousands of angelic praisers of God in the heavens.
AN INDIRECT STRIKE UPON THE CHEEK
21. Among whom did Jesus Christ begin to reign in 1914, and how was it possible for him to be struck upon the cheek after that?
21 Nations today are not grateful for Jehovah’s provisions any more than they were when the “ruler in Israel” came out of the earthly Bethlehem nineteen centuries ago. Hence in a larger fulfillment of Micah 5:1 they have struck this “judge of Israel” upon the cheek. When? How? Not directly, of course; for Jesus Christ is now enthroned at God’s right hand in the heavens, impossible for the nations to reach even by space ships. After his kingdom was born in the heavens in 1914, he at once began ruling in the midst of his enemies. He cast Satan the Devil and his demon angels out of heaven and down to the neighborhood of our earth, never to return to the heavens of God’s holy organization. So the insulting strike upon the cheek of the heavenly “judge of Israel” took place indirectly. How? By being inflicted upon his remnant of faithful followers on earth during World War I. When Jesus sent out his twelve apostles to preach God’s kingdom he said: “He that receives you receives me also.” (Matt. 10:40) Conversely, he that turns away a disciple of Jesus when he brings the Kingdom message turns Jesus away also.
22. What principle did the King Jesus Christ state in his illustration of the sheep and the goats, and so how could a strike upon the cheek be rendered in His case?
22 In his illustration using sheep and goats to picture the judgment of the nations that is now going on, Jesus the enthroned King says to the sheep: “Truly I say to you, To the extent that you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” To the goats he says: “To the extent that you did not do it to one of these least ones, you did not do it to me.” (Matt. 25:40, 45) Hence, in these days, to strike Jesus’ remnant of spiritual brothers on the cheek in abusing the rod of authority means to strike the heavenly “ruler of Israel” on the cheek with insult.—1 Ki. 22:24; Job 16:10.
23, 24. (a) Long before 1914 what had the spiritual remnant preached regarding that year, and what was the attitude toward them on the part of Christendom’s rulers? (b) How did the Ruler out of Bethlehem take such mistreatment of the remnant?
23 Long before 1914 the remnant of Christ’s spiritual brothers preached in the nations of Christendom that the Gentile Times would end that year and God’s kingdom by Christ would be fully set up in the heavens. This Kingdom preaching they did by distributing books, booklets, magazines and tracts and by public lectures and at last the free public showing of the Photo-Drama of Creation to great crowds. The religious leaders of Christendom were all taken up with the issues in the world war of that time. Neither they nor the warring nations had any regard for the remnant of Christ’s spiritual brothers who preached God’s kingdom as the rightful rulership of the earth now that the Gentile Times had ended in the year 1914.
24 At this message the religious clergy were incensed. Martial law and fanatical, delirious patriotism furnished them an opportunity. They took advantage of it to put the faithful Kingdom preachers in a bad light before people and in a seditious cast before the militarized political governments. Like Jesus, the remnant of his brothers were insulted with the false charge of sedition, conspiracy and obstruction to national welfare. Outrageously the rod of political and judicial authority was viciously swung to strike them on the cheek, as it were, and to imprison them and put them in detention camps and to ban their literature or prohibit their religious meetings. Did this unjust, antichristian action escape the notice of the heavenly “ruler of Israel” out of Bethlehem? No! As these were his spiritual brothers and his Kingdom representatives, he took it as being done to him. To add further insult to injury, Christendom chose the League of Nations instead of Christ’s kingdom, thinking that she could fool him by calling the League of Nations “the political expression of the kingdom of God on earth.”
25. How had Jehovah foretold this in Micah 5:3, and how was this first fulfilled in the case of fleshly Israel?
25 All this unchristian action in rejecting the Kingdom was permitted by Almighty God Jehovah. It served as a disciplinary experience for his remnant, who had faithful hearts. (Heb. 12:4-11) He foretold it in these words of Micah 5:3, right after telling of the coming of the “ruler in Israel” out of Bethlehem: “Therefore he will give them up until the time that she who is giving birth actually gives birth. And the rest of his brothers will return to the sons of Israel.” Of course, the ancient fulfillment of this prophecy was when the sons of fleshly Israel were, because of disobedience to Jehovah God, delivered over to the Babylonians to be taken as captives into exile far away; but after seventy years of desolation of Jerusalem and her temple a faithful remnant were delivered from Babylon and they returned to their homeland to give a rebirth to their nation and to Jehovah’s temple worship. It was as if God’s visible organization on earth, Zion, had given birth to a new Israelite nation. (Isa. 66:7, 8) Similarly with spiritual Israel!
26. How was Micah 5:3 fulfilled in the case of spiritual Israel in 1918 and 1919?
26 Especially in 1918, the climactic year of World War I, the remnant were besieged by rabid religious assailants. They were overwhelmed and taken into bondage and captivity to the worldly organizations at war. This compared with Israel’s Babylonian captivity, while their capital city Jerusalem lay desolate. Because Jehovah God had adopted these dedicated, baptized members of the remnant as his spiritual children, they could say, as did the apostle Paul long ago: “But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother.” (Gal. 4:26) The spiritual children of the “Jerusalem above” ought to be free just as their heavenly mother is, and not be exiled slaves of modern-day Babylon. So Jehovah God the heavenly Father caused his “woman,” the Jerusalem above, to give birth in the first postwar year, 1919. He broke the power of the Babylonish captivity. He freed his loyal remnant from their bondage of fear, so that they returned to their proper relationship with him as spiritual “sons of Israel.” Not only did they get free from the many limitations imposed upon free speech, action and worship by a world at war, but they broke out of their bondage to the fear of men.—Prov. 29:25.
27. Thus what spiritual birth was there in 1919, and into what did the world war of 1939-1945 fail to bring the remnant?
27 In fulfillment of Matthew 24:14 they renewed their organized work of boldly preaching the “good news of the kingdom.” It was as if their heavenly mother, “the Jerusalem above,” had given birth in 1919 and had brought forth a new nation, a free spiritual nation, in the land of Jehovah’s worship. Since then the remnant have never again yielded to fear and self-surrender to Babylonian bondage, even during the much worse world war of 1939-1945.
28. What was to be expected regarding such a spiritual birth as regards the nations and peoples among whom it occurred?
28 We would not expect this deliverance and birth of a new spiritual nation in the midst of peoples and nations of this world to occur without important notable effects upon those peoples and nations. How was this surprising, totally unexpected birth of a delivered, restored spiritual nation going to affect such peoples and nations? In a way commanding world attention. Let us see!